Actually, I guess that should say, “is less likely to kill you.”
A study released by a Swiss pollution monitoring company, IQAir, states that zero cities met the World Health Organization’s guidelines for good air quality. And of the world’s approximately 10,000 cities, only 222 of them have an “average” air quality.
Seven million people die each year due to air pollution. If you’ve been loud about the loss of life from Covid, please, be loud about this, too.
Because pollution leads to climate change and climate change leads to all sorts of atrocities—not just the health of us and our planet, but we’ll see more mass migration, land loss, and wars over resources. We can’t all sit cozy and ignorant in our cul-de-sacs forever. The “smoking section” analogy works well here. It may seem like air pollution is like a smoggy cloud that only hovers over certain cities. And on a very small scale, yes, that is correct. But clouds move. Air moves. Pollutants waft. The temperature rises. The results of climate change are planet-wide and happen to all of us.
I used to joke about living where the air hurts my face, having made my home in both winter cities of “Winterpeg, Manitoba” and “Edmonton, Snowberta.” But in Alberta, our gardening zone just changed because we’ve gotten warmer. What isn’t funny is that while the air may still hurt my face (for now), it’s actually doing damage to my body. Never have I wanted so badly to get out of the city and onto an acreage, far away from all the grossness.
But realistically, that’s not going to solve the problem because, again, it’s planet-wide.
So, if you want to temporarily move somewhere that’s a little better for your lungs (while you fight to save our planet), consider these cities in the United States and Canada that had the cleanest air in 2021 (from best to worst):
- Labrador City, Newfoundland
- Sahuarity, Arizona
- Fortuna Foothills, Arizona
- Florence, Oregon
- Kitimat, British Columbia
- Delta, British Columbia
- Terrace, British Columbia
- New River, Arizona
- Longview, Washington
- Oak Harbor, Washington
And if you live in these cities, your lungs are in for a rough ride (starting from the worst):
- Three Rivers, California
- Pollock Pines, California
- Indian Hills, Nevada
- Terrell, Texas
- Altamont, Oregon
- South Lake Tahoe, California
- Susanville, California
- Johnson Lake, Nevada
- Exeter, California
- Klamath Falls, Oregon
I find it interesting that Oregon made both the best and the worst list. And while California dominates the “worst” list, let’s remember that while it’s massively populated, it’s also had massive forest fires contributing to the poor air quality, and again, we are all responsible for that—not just Californians. (I think it’s safe to say that both Oregon and Nevada might have been similarly affected, as neighbor states.)
What are three things we can do to help our air quality situation? For me:
>> I’m going to invest in a cart for my bike this summer so I can avoid driving to the grocery store, which is about the only place I drive these days (but I recognize that as a privilege, not an accomplishment).
>> Any new clothing I purchase will be secondhand. (I already do this but not 100 percent of the time.)
>> I will line-dry my laundry until it’s too cold to do so.
Simple and easy. And though they may be tiny changes, each little change adds up.