The Associated Press
Posted: Monday, September 26, 2011 -
New Mexico’s capital, which regularly tops rankings for its quality of life, has something new to brag about. The first-ever World Health Organization survey on air pollution said Santa Fe’s air-quality readings are among the cleanest in the world.
Santa Fe Mayor David Coss said he’s pleased but not surprised, as the city consistently gets high rankings from the American Lung Association.
“It’s one of the things we love about living in Santa Fe,” he said.
The high-mountain desert city is used to ranking high on lists of best places for living, visiting and playing. In fact, Coss said he is traveling to New York next month to find out whether it will win Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s No. 1 ranking of places to visit.
“We were voted in the top three best cities to visit,” he said. “I am going to see if maybe we are No. 1.”
Santa Fe and the Canadian Yukon Territory’s capital Whitehorse were among the cities with the top rankings in the global survey from WHO, which measures the levels of airborne particles smaller than 10 micrometers — so-called PM10s — in almost 1,100 cities.
Whitehorse had a yearly average of just 3 micrograms of PM10s per cubic meter, while Santa Fe measured 6 micrograms.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Whitehorse Mayor Bev Buckway. “A lot of people come up north and they smell the air and the say, ‘Oh wow. Amazing. The air smells so good,’ ” she said. “And we tend to take it for granted because we just have that all the time.”
Washington, D.C., had a level of 18 micrograms, Tokyo measured 23 micrograms, and Paris had 38 micrograms of PM10s per cubic meter.
Cities in Iran, India, Pakistan and the capital of Mongolia rank among the worst on the planet for air pollution.
The southwest Iranian city of Ahvaz walked away with the unfortunate distinction of having the highest measured level of airborne particles smaller than 10 micrometers. Ahvaz’s annual average of PM10s was 372 micrograms per cubic meter. Heavy industry and low-quality vehicle fuel are the main causes of air pollution in that desert city of 1.3 million people.