Air quality might not be top of mind when you head out for a hike or open the windows to catch a summer breeze, but it can have a major impact on your life. Poor air quality can lead to increased rates of asthma, sinusitis and hay fever, which means sneezing, itchy eyes and an itchy nose, says San Francisco allergy specialist Denise Wood. “You can even get allergy-type symptoms from pollen, pollution, car exhaust and dust from buildings,” she says.
For the second year, the environmental consulting company Environmental Health & Engineering (EHE) compiled data for the AirGenius Awards, sponsored by the makers of the Honeywell AirGenius Air Cleaner, to identify the American cities with the best air quality. They looked at a range of factors, including pollen counts, ozone concentrations, particulate-matter concentrations, public smoking laws, access to parks and “green” and “clean” city rankings. “The results are exciting,” says Ted Myatt, Sc.D., a senior scientist at EHE who worked on the study, “not only because they consolidate several air-pollutant measures into a single metric, but also because the rankings are an indicator that air quality will remain good in the future for the citizens of the high-ranking cities.”
Here are the top 50 cities named in the second annual AirGenius Awards, as well as our tips for how to enjoy the clean air of each location.