City rankings are a curious thing. Take for example my hometown, Tacoma, Wash., which was ranked the “most sexually healthy city for women” by Self in 2006 and as America’s “most stressful city” in a 2004 survey. I guess Tacoma residents gotta take care of all that stress somehow, right?
There's no graceful way to segue from stress-related sexual healing in the Pacific Northwest to shuttered steel mils and chemical sludge in the Southeast so here it is: an article recently published in Forbes.com’s real estate section bestowed Atlanta, The Mother Nature Network's hometown, with a rather unsavory title: “America’s Most Toxic City.” Ouch.
I can’t speak directly to Atlanta’s supposed toxicity since I’ve only been to the city once. But I can say that during my visit I was overwhelmed by the verdant sprawl of the place (and all of the Peach-named streets) not by filthy air and questionable drinking water. Atlantans, what are your thoughts on the rankings? Keep in mind that this is all based on EPA data and not on arbitrary findings.
So how did other metro areas fare? Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Los Angeles: not so well. If you live in Las Vegas, Sacramento, Riverside/ San Bernardino/Ontario, Austin, and yep, sexed-up, stressed-out Seattle/Tacoma you can rejoice in the fact that you live in the least toxic of the 40 cities.
Surprisingly, Portland, Ore., a city that always seems to top the list in “green” city rankings, is considered the 10th most toxic city.
Take a look at the Forbes.com article and then at the full list of rankings and an explanation of the methodology used. I also recommend checking out the comments section to see the debate that the article has sparked.
Finally, given that this is a real estate-based article being discussed on a home-centric blog, I feel like I should offer some advice even though this is a tricky issue extending beyond my scope. The best thing I can say is: be aware and be active. Toxic contamination can take many forms, not always blatant, so even if you don’t think that your own backyard is affected, it doesn’t hurt to be informed of various environmental issues in your area. Keep abreast with the activities of your city and/or local environmental watchdog groups. And most importantly, if you think something isn’t quite right with the air, water, or land around your home, don’t ignore it.