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Lincoln is literally a breath of fresh air. It was the only city in our survey not to exceed the ozone or particle pollution thresholds on any day in 2009. Healthy air adds up to a lower rate of childhood asthma.
"We make sure that local businesses comply with the state's standards, which are a bit stricter than federal ones," says Rick Thorson, environmental-health supervisor for air quality at the health department. Plus, the unemployment rate is 4.6 percent -- less than half of the national average.
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