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Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Harbour
Photograph: Steve Back/Destination NSW

Looking for clean air to breathe? Australia seems like the place to be

The cities around the world with the most ‘good air days’ have been ranked – and Sydney came in 5th

Written by
Melissa Woodley

There’s nothing quite like stepping outside in the morning and taking your first breath of fresh air. Luckily, Australians are spoilt with some of the cleanest and freshest air in the world and there’s a new study to back it up. Especially those of us in NSW.

The global analysis by HouseFresh found that six out of the nine cities experiencing 365 ‘good air days’ a year were in Australia, with Perth claiming the second-top spot. NSW was home to three of these top-ranking cities, including Wollongong at number four, Sydney closely following in fifth place and Newcastle ranking seventh. There's no doubt that we have our city’s abundance of parks and green spaces to thank for these stellar results.

HouseFresh compiled the global rankings by analysing pollution data from the World Air Quality Index. They defined a ‘good air day’ as one with low levels of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 in the atmosphere, while days with high levels of PM 2.5 were categorised as ‘bad air days’. 

Joining the top ten cities with the most ‘good air days’ was gold-medallist Zürich, Switzerland, along with Reykjavík, Iceland in third place. Only one city in the US can claim to have ‘good air days’ year-round, and that was Honolulu, Hawaii in the sixth spot.

Towards the murkier end of the spectrum, four of India’s major cities experience one day or less of ‘good air’ each year. These findings are somewhat alarming considering that poor air quality from particulate matter is the sixth leading cause of global excess deaths annually, as reported by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. That’s one in five excess deaths each year, according to another study from Harvard University.

If you’re on the lookout for your next travel destination, then you might want to check out the full rankings here. And, if you’re looking for a new city to live in, then it seems Australia is the best place to start.  

Here are the top rankings of ‘good air days’ in Australian cities:

  1. Perth: 365 days
  2. Wollongong: 365
  3. Sydney: 365
  4. Newcastle: 365
  5. Adelaide: 365
  6. Canberra: 364
  7. Brisbane: 362
  8. Hobart: 360
  9. Launceston: 353
  10. Melbourne: 353
  11. Darwin: 297


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