A view of downtown Bangor from the promenade deck of the Thomas Hill Standpipe on Friday during Bangor Water's annual Holiday Tour. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Bangor has the fifth-cleanest air of any U.S. city, outranked only by cities in Hawaii, Wyoming and North Carolina, according to the American Lung Association.

In its annual “State of the Air” report, the organization said Bangor has some of the most pristine air in the country, particularly in terms of year-round particle pollution. It also is among seven cities nationwide that had zero days of either high short-term particle pollution or high ozone pollution between 2019 and 2021.

Ozone is a gas that can irritate the lungs and cause breathing problems for older adults and people with lung conditions such as asthma. It’s created by pollutants emitted from cars, plants and factories, and is worst on hot sunny days in urban areas.

Particle pollution, which is defined by the EPA as a mix of solid and liquid droplets suspended in the air, can be composed of a variety of chemicals, including acids, ammonia, dust, soot, smoke, pollen and spores.

Maine generally has some of the cleanest air in the country, though Penobscot County ranked highest overall in terms of all three metrics the study looked at, which include short-term and year-round particle pollution and ozone.

The four cities ranked higher than Bangor in terms of air quality are Kahului, Hawaii; Honolulu, Hawaii; Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Wilmington, North Carolina.

Cumberland County and Portland had higher levels of ozone pollution, alongside Hancock, Knox and York counties. All other Maine counties had zero days of high ozone pollution during the three-year period the report studied.

Only Aroostook and Oxford counties experienced any unhealthy days for particle pollution, with all other counties experiencing zero days.  

Avatar photo

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.