South Dakota’s Dirtiest City Might Surprise You (Or Maybe Not)
I've lived pretty much all over the state of South Dakota over the past 47 years. Winner, Aberdeen, Volga, Brookings, Sturgis, Rapid City, Sioux Falls. Moved to the state in 1974 and never left. Don't want to leave, thank you very much. I'm livin' in the greatest state in the nation. Friendly folks, beautiful scenery, good clean towns.
Or so I thought.
Turns out I spent about 15 years in South Dakota's 'dirtiest' town and didn't even know it.
Now the term 'dirtiest' is relative. I think it's fair to say South Dakota's dirtiest town is one of the cleanest places in the entire country. Please, allow me to explain.
IQAir is a website that keeps track of air pollution not only around the United States, but places all around the world. Believe me, there are some places on the planet that you and I don't want to live. Geez, looks like a soul could hardly breathe in some of those spots! Anyway, in checking the Mount Rushmore State, we're pretty much clean all over, but the least of all the clean cities is...
Rapid City. Really? I lived there for a decade and a half and didn't notice folks walking along wheezing, holding their noses or wearing a gas mask. So why would Rapid City hold the distinction of poorest air quality in the state?
I decided to check out what Rapid City itself had to say. And at the rcgov.org website they explained:
Strong temperature inversions cause air quality problems when the air temperature is near 32 °F, the average wind speed is less than 8 mph, and the inversion layer is less than 4500 feet. The bowl-like topography of west Rapid City created by the surrounding mountain ridges traps pollutants close to the ground during these periods of strong temperature inversions. Poor air quality results if these inversion conditions persist for more than 12 hours.
OK, well I lived there as I said and I can report...not a big deal.
By the way, back to those rankings of South Dakota's most polluted cities (which in the grand scheme of things aren't really all that polluted), Sioux Falls ranked tenth. As far as the 'cleanest' South Dakota city? That would be Pierre. Although I would argue Pierre is also the city with the hottest air.
But only when the legislature is in session.
10 Most Dangerous Cities in South Dakota