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Fargo's air best in the nation according to report

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FARGO - Hey Fargoans, feel like taking a deep breath now that we're safely through spring flooding?

Go ahead. Take a couple, in fact.

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It will be good for you.

After all, Fargo's air is the best in the nation, according to the American Lung Association's State of the Air 2009 report.

The Fargo-Moorhead-Wahpeton, N.D.-Breckenridge, Minn., metropolitan statistical area was the only one to appear on each of the report's lists of cleanest cities for ozone, and 24-hour and year-round particulate pollution.

Fargo tied for 17th place for long-term particulate pollution. It joined just nine other cities for being the cleanest in terms of ozone levels, and 24 other cities for having the lowest short-term particulate levels. In the latter two lists, no numerical rank was given by the Lung Association.

Bismarck appeared on two of the cleanest-air lists (long-term and 24-hour particulates), as did Sioux Falls, S.D., (ozone and 24-hour particulates).

Among the conclusions of the 10th annual report:

* Six out of 10 people in the U.S. live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution. That means nearly 186.1 million Americans live where they are exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution.

* Three out of 10 people in the United States live in an area with unhealthy short-term levels of particle pollution, an increase from the last report. More than 92.7 million Americans live in 134 counties that experienced too many days with unhealthy spikes in particle pollution, the report says. That can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and emergency-room visits.

Fargo is also doing well by other group's measures:

* AARP The Magazine puts Fargo at No. 5 in its Top 10 healthiest cities to live and retire in the U.S.

Fargo was chosen for its air quality, use of biodiesel to power transit buses, the city's commitment to use methane, solar panels and wind generators to generate electricity and heat, and a high rate of flossing and brushing teeth.

Ranked 1 to 4 were Ann Arbor, Mich., Honolulu, Madison, Wis., and Santa Fe, N.M.

* Earth Day Network ranked Fargo No. 1 in its most recent Urban Environment Report.

The report ranked 72 U.S. cities on more than 200 indicators of environmental, health and social problems. Fargo was followed by Burlington, Vt., Portland, Ore., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Sioux Falls.

The cities receiving the poorest marks in the report were Houston, El Paso, Texas, Cleveland, Miami and Detroit.

Most polluted, 24-hour particulates

* Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pa.

* Fresno-Madera, Calif.

* Bakersfield, Calif.

* Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Calif.

* Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, Ala.

Most-polluted, year-round particulates

* Bakersfield, Calif.

* Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pa.

* Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Calif.

* Visalia-Porterville, Calif.

* Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, Ala.

Cleanest, long-term particulates

* Cheyenne, Wyo.

* Santa Fe., N.M.

* Honolulu, Hawaii

* Great Falls, Mont.

* Farmington, N.M.

* 7. Bismarck, tied with Flagstaff, Ariz.

* 17. Fargo-Moorhead Wahpeton-Breckenridge, tied with Albuquerque, N.M.

Among the cleanest cities for ozone

* Fargo-Moorhead-Wahpeton-Breckenridge

* Billings, Mont.

* Sioux Falls, S.D.

* Carson City, Nev.

* Couer d'Alene, Idaho

Among the cleanest cities for short-term particulates

* Fargo-Moorhead-Wahpeton-Breckenridge

* Bismarck

* Sioux Falls, S.D.

* Colorado Springs, Colo.

* Cheyenne, Wyo.

* Great Falls, Mont.

Most polluted, ozone

* Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Calif.

* Bakersfield, Calif.

* Visalia-Porterville, Calif.

* Fresno-Madera, Calif

* Houston, Texas

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