The air quality across the United States has been steadily declining over recent years, signaling a worrying trend for both residents and tourists alike. As per the American Lung Association’s 2023 “State of the Air” report, a staggering 137 million Americans were exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution in 2020, a significant increase from 133 million the previous year.
A more recent source of concern has been the smoke emanating from Canadian wildfires. The smoke has spread far and wide, affecting the northeastern states and even reaching as far as Georgia and Florida. The health implications of such pollution are severe, with respiratory problems, eye irritation, and headaches being some of the most common afflictions.
The prospect of clean, ocean air during summer vacations is a welcoming thought for the millions of Americans living in pollution-impacted areas. A study by MyBioSource has revealed which summer vacation destinations have the cleanest air for vacation-goers.
Analyzing Air Quality Index (AQI) data from the last fortnight*, MyBioSource has provided a comprehensive understanding of which popular vacation spots in the United States offer the freshest air.
[The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a measure of how polluted the air is and how it affects human health. It is a numerical scale that ranges from 0 to 500, with 0 being the cleanest air and 500 being the most polluted. The AQI is based on six pollutants:
Particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10)
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
Carbon monoxide (CO)
Unsurprisingly, popular vacation destinations in Hawaii and Alaska emerged as oases of fresh air. Hawaii’s Hapuna Beach and Poipu Beach topped the list with an AQI reading of just 10. Close behind were three Alaskan destinations: Homer Spit Beach, Sandy Beach, and Kenai Beach with readings of 11 and 14 respectively.
However, at the other end of the scale were destinations in Texas and New York. Bottom was South Padre Island in Texas, beloved for its endless stretches of soft, golden sands and warm Gulf of Mexico waters. However, the average AQI reading stood significantly higher at 57. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has asserted that an AQI between 51 – 100 is just ‘acceptable’.
With the recent Canadian wildfires, it’s perhaps no surprise that two New York destinations – Coney Island and Rockaway Beach – came in at second and third, both clocking AQI readings of 56. Maryland’s picturesque Chesapeake Beach, with its tranquil beaches and waterfront activities, rounded came fourth with an AQI reading of 55. And rounding off the top five was North Beach in Maryland, also scoring a reading of 55.
“While we acknowledge the growing air quality challenges across many parts of the U.S., it’s heartening to see nature-rich havens providing a refreshing break for our citizens,” says a spokesperson from MyBioSource. “This study underscores the incredible value of maintaining and cherishing our pristine environments, reminding us that clean air is not only a boon for our health, but also a key attraction of our beautiful vacation spots.”
*Data is calculated on AQI from iqair.com 3rd – 17th July 2023.