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The Top 10 Least Toxic Cities in America

3/30/2011 1:03:23 PM

Tags: natural health, environment, city, cities, top 10, toxic cities, clean cities, Superfund sites, air quality, water quality, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Las Vegas, Nashville, Little Rock, North Carolina, Pennsylvania

As with most situations, when given one extreme, you’d probably like to know the other. So when Forbes released its list of the top 10 most toxic cities in America, many of you were probably wondering, “Which are the least toxic?” Forbes was happy to oblige.

Using the same data as it did for the most toxic rankings—air quality, water quality, number of Superfund sites (abandoned areas where hazardous waste can be found), number of days the cities’ Air Quality Index (AQI) exceeded 100, and the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory—Forbes compiled a list of the cities in America where the air is clean, the water quality is good and little toxic activity takes place.

Oklahoma City skyline 
Oklahoma City ranks ninth on the list of least toxic cities in America. Photo By Paul McCord, Jr./Courtesy Flickr.

McAllen, Texas, a town of a little more than 130,000 people located in the southern most tip of Texas near the Mexico border, secured the top spot on the list with no superfund sites awaiting cleanup and just 446 pounds of toxins released in 2009. Compare that to Philadelphia, the most toxic city in America with 50 superfund sites and 11.3 million pounds of toxins released. From the midwest to the northeast, here are Forbes' 10 Least Toxic Cities in America.

1. McAllen, Texas 

2. Little Rock, Arkansas 

3. Raleigh, North Carolina 

4. Orlando, Florida 

5. Las Vegas 

6. Nashville, Tennessee 

7. Scranton, Pennsylvania 

8. Bradenton, Florida 

9. Oklahoma City 

10. Wichita, Kansas 

Keep in mind that a low score in one area can balance out a bad score in another. Scranton, Pennsylvania ranked well in water quality and on-site toxic releases, but rated 49 out of 100 in superfund sites. Meanwhile, Las Vegas scored low in air quality but had few Superfund sites.

My hometown of Wichita, Kansas, made the top 10. Is your city on the list?

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