Americans are less worried about environmental issues, such as air pollution and loss of rainforest, than they were in 2000, according to a recent Gallup poll. The notable exception is global warming, which saw concern rise slightly over the last two decades.
Still, water pollution remains the top environmental concern for adults in the U.S., where 56% of the poll respondents expressed "a great deal" of worry about polluted drinking water, and 53% about polluted lakes and rivers.
As part of its 2021 Best States rankings, U.S. News measures which states have the best natural environments, using metrics measuring drinking water quality, air quality, amount of pollution and the risks of pollution on the population. On average in the U.S., 959.2 pounds per square mile of toxins are released into the environment.
Here are the 4 states with the best natural environment:
Urban air quality: 21.1 unhealthy days/year
Industrial toxins: 453.2 pounds/square mile
Hawaii ranks No. 1 for drinking water quality and No. 2 for urban air quality, leading to its top spot in the natural environment category.
- New Hampshire
Urban air quality: 13.9 unhealthy days/year
Industrial toxins: 43.9 pounds/square mile
New Hampshire ranks No. 1 for urban air quality, and boasts some of the lowest levels of industrial toxins.
- South Dakota
Urban air quality: 47.6 unhealthy days/year
Industrial toxins: 94.2 pounds/square mile
South Dakota ranks No. 3 for having low industrial toxins and No. 7 for its low pollution health risk.
Urban air quality: 35.5 unhealthy days/year
Industrial toxins: 400.9 pounds/square mile
Massachusetts ranks highly for its air and water, at No. 5 for drinking water quality and No. 7 for urban air quality.
By Kaia Hubbard