Here's another "list" that ranks Idaho high, but it's the type of list most chambers of commerce would rather you not read. The United Health Foundation ranks Idaho as having some of the worst air pollution in the nation—second only to California.
The new research from UHF measured air quality by "the average person's exposure level to airborne particulate matter (PM)." In particular, it measured how much PM is present in a cubic meter of air. The study indicates the United States has an overall average of nearly 9.5 micrograms of PM per cubic meter, but Idaho's average public exposure to particulate matter is 11.7 micrograms. California topped the list at 12.5, followed by Idaho, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois. Nearby Montana, Wyoming and Oregon had some of the lowest PM exposure in the U.S.
Earlier this year, officials with the Idaho Conservation League and Advocates for the West petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency due to a "sharp increase of fine particulate matter" in the Treasure Valley, pointing to air inversions and a string of large wildfires, sending more particulates into the region.
The data is part of of UHF's annual report, "America's Health Rankings" which ranked Idaho 17th overall in the nation for health, pointing to the Gem State's low prevalence of diabetes and low incidence of salmonella. However, the report stated Idaho's high levels of air pollution and limited availability to primary care physicians were major challenges.
- United Health Foundation/America's Health Rankings 2015