the least polluted cities

There’s nothing quite like stepping out of a city’s heavy fog and gulping in some deliciously fresh air. But, believe it or not, some cities actually offer pretty clean air – yes, even the bigger ones.

A recent study of the European Environment Agency (AEE) examined the air quality in 340 European cities and classified them according to the purity of their air. The study mainly looked at concentrations of a kind of fine particulate matter called PM2.5, measured in micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3).

Unsurprisingly, a bunch of Scandinavian cities topped the top 10. The East Swedish the city of Umeå came out on top, while stockholmUppsala and inland Finnish city ​​of Tampere are all in the top ten. (Stockholm is the highest-ranked national capital on the list, along with Tallinn and Reykjavík also present.)

Apart from Northern Europe, the other side of the continent fared rather well: Faro in Portugal came second and the Madeira the capital of Funchal came third.

That’s the good news. The problem is that only 11 of the 340 cities in the EEA study met the WHO standard for acceptably clean air, which is 5 μg/m3 PM2.5. Oh oh. (Naturally, the UKno longer in the EU, was not covered by the study – but the average PM2.5 concentration in UK cities in 2021 was around 8 μg/m3.)

Here are the top ten European cities with the cleanest air, according to the EEA.

  1. Umea, Sweden
  2. faro, Portugal
  3. Funchal, Portugal
  4. Tampere, Finland
  5. Narva, Estonia
  6. stockholm, Sweden
  7. Upsala, Sweden
  8. Tallin, Estonia
  9. bergen, Norway
  10. Reykjavik, Iceland

If you want to read the full list, you can read more here and plan a vacation that will do your tired lungs some good.

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