DEP: Florida once again leads nation with cleanest air on record

Palms against blue sky
Florida has met all ambient air quality standards and ranks atop the most populated states in the U.S. for clean air.

Long known as a global destination for tourism, Florida offers beautiful beaches, recreation, and plenty of sunshine.

Now the state boasts some of the cleanest air on record, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The department recently confirmed that for the second straight year, Florida has met all ambient air quality standards and ranks atop the most populated states in the U.S. for clean air.

“These efforts have not only resulted in Florida continuing to have the cleanest air on record but to remain the most populous state in the United States to meet these stringent federal standards,” said a spokesperson for the DEP.

The consecutive record for air quality recognizes that Florida meets all ambient air quality standards.

A 2020 news release on the achievement bragged that the Sunshine State has the “cleanest air on record” and is “the most populous state in the United States to meet these stringent federal standards” for air quality.

The agency monitors air quality across a network comprised of 177 monitors on 90 sites throughout the state. According to DEP, its statewide air quality network, “is critical for assessing the state’s progress in maintaining and improving air quality, understanding temporal variations in air pollutants, and evaluating pollutant exposure by individuals and the environment.”

Preceding the latest good news on air quality, DEP announced plans to continue updating the state’s air quality monitoring network with new equipment, according to its 2021 draft Annual Ambient Air Monitoring Network Plan that was released in May.

Among the South Florida stations set to receive new equipment are Delray Beach, Belle Glade and Homestead.

According to the plan, the state plans to replace the air quality monitor in Belle Glade with a new monitor that will reinstate the Belle Glade station as an official regulatory monitor. Since 2013, that monitor has been measuring PM2.5 and reporting as an Air Quality Index (AQI) network station through an approved waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The draft plan also notes “Palm Beach County is expected to replace the Met One BAM 1020 [in Belle Glade] by June 2021 with an approved FEM monitor, the Teledyne T640.” The DEP plan stands by the existing Belle Glade monitor along with all of the monitors in the network, stating “This network is sufficient to protect the health and welfare of Florida’s residents and environment.”

Additionally, the DEP plan states the stated goal of the PM2.5 monitors are to provide “information on how fine particles are transported to and within the state, to identify the parts of the state with the highest concentrations of fine particles, and to determine where fine particle concentrations do and do not exceed the NAAQS.”

The department notes that one of the largest contributors to PM 2.5 particle emissions, a common type of particle emissions in Florida, is vehicular traffic.

“Fine particles (PM2.5) can result directly from emissions of fuel combustion from motor vehicles, power generation and industrial facilities as well as from residential fireplaces and wood stoves,” according to a DEP report on Florida’s air quality.

A key part of Florida’s air quality success has been proper management of state and private lands, which in turn helps prevent wildfires, said former Florida Forest Service Director Jim Karels. Karels points to Florida’s better than average air quality and overall lack of wildfires as evidence the program works well.

“Florida’s foresters, farmers, ranchers, and large landowners have worked hard over the past few decades to make our program a national model other states have sought to replicate,” said Karels, who retired from the Florida Forest Service in 2020. “Florida agriculture has been an integral partner in all of our state’s success.”

Before his retirement from the state of Florida, in 2019, Karels was inducted into the Florida Foresters Hall of Fame and awarded the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s Paul Gleason Lead by Example Lifetime Achievement Award. In bestowing the honor, the group noted Karels is “a national leader in both prescribed fire and wildfire management.”

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


  • Tom Palmer

    June 25, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    Areas where some of the worst air quality may occur in downtown urban areas and industrial areas are not where the monitors are located. Air quality in rural areas is probably pretty good, but it always was.

  • Chad

    June 25, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    Wtf are you talking about???
    Florida is cutting down every Goddamn tree it can find in a greed infested attempt to continue to draw WAY more people here than the ecosystem can possible handle!!!
    We don’t even have emission laws for God’s sake.

  • Tom Palmer

    June 26, 2021 at 9:12 am

    That’s my point. This is more DeSantis administration spin.

  • Adam Cooke

    June 26, 2021 at 11:28 pm

    Nope. Not true at all. Florida isn’t in the top 10 states in best air. Nice fake news Florida tourism and housing board.

  • monday

    June 27, 2021 at 5:57 pm

    cleaner air because it rains a lot around here. however there is a smog and raising heat problem cars and tars. radiation bounces back at you.

  • predictableasthesunrise

    June 28, 2021 at 7:57 am

    “Trust the experts”, except when you disagree with them.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704