Cities With Best and Worst Environments

There are lots of things to love and hate about a hometown, but few things are as important as the local environment. We all have to be brutally honest about our lifestyle and the health of the city we live in if we want to make quality of life a priority. When we’re brave enough to look at information like Judgmental Maps that’s when we can make the most informed choices.

If you happen to live in a city with one of the worst environments, know that many areas are taking initiative to clean things up. Researchers around the world are focused on using technology to improve air quality and water quality throughout the globe. Advanced solutions like membrane systems show just how far we’ve come in learning how to minimize our impact on the environment.

Check out five of the most and least healthy cities in the world to see if you live in an environmentally friendly area:

Cities With the Healthiest Environments


It’s not hard to see why this natural paradise tops many lists of the healthiest cities. In addition to protecting the natural beauty, Hawaiian law calls for every person to live positively. Healthy attitudes lead to healthy lifestyles. You’ll enjoy breathtaking beaches, mai tais and air with some of the lowest levels of ozone and particulates on the planet when you visit or live in Honolulu.


A few years ago McAllen ranked among the highest on Forbes list of the Least Toxic U.S. Cities. McAllen earned a spot for having no superfund sites (areas with uncontrolled hazardous waste) and a very low toxic release inventory. The latter shows the amount of toxic substances that are released or produced in the metro area.

Las Vegas, NV

Believe it or not, Sin City has one of the cleanest environments in the U.S. Years were spent figuring out a way to bring clean water into the city, which has helped improve quality. There’s also very little unmanaged hazardous waste, and fortunately the Strip gets cleaned every day.


Costa Rica is one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world. The entire nation has gone months at a time powered solely by clean hydropower. The Nicoya Peninsula is also a “blue zone” where people are known to reach their 100the birthday more frequently.


The outdoor lifestyle of New Zealand lends itself well to a healthy environment. Even though it’s one of the most populated areas in the country, Wellington in particular has been named one of the cleanest cities in the world. It helps that about a third of the residents use public transportation.

Cities With the Least Healthy Environments


When China was tapped to host the 2008 Olympics it brought a serious health concern to the forefront of conversation. Beijing was well known for its high levels of pollution and poor air quality. Immediately, athletes began to voice their concerns over competing in such environments. China went to great efforts to clean up the air and water in Beijing, but it still rates as one of the most polluted cities in the world.


While California and New York tend to be obvious environmental offenders, another state has the most toxic city in America. Forbes rated Philadelphia as having the highest toxic levels across the United States. The metro area has an astounding 50 superfund sites and also had the worst water ratings on Sperlings Best Places list.


California may be known for it’s sunny weather, but many of the large cities are notorious for their smog. Air quality has long been a bugaboo for Los Angeles, however Bakersfield actually has a lower rating. In 2009 the city had 43 days when the air quality reached unhealthy levels.


The city that never sleeps generates a lot of waste. With such a high capita per square mile and lack of green space negatively impacting the air quality it’s no surprise New York City has higher pollutant levels. While NYC isn’t as bad as other similarly sized cities around the world, it’s not great compared to some U.S. metros.


The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks Zabol, Iran as the most polluted city on the planet. The organization’s ranking is largely based on the number of PM2.5 size particles in the air. These are the air pollutants most likely to harm a person’s health. Zabol also ranks third for PM10 pollution.


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