From 2016 to 2020, the Air Quality Index (AQI) shows the Appleton area having good air quality 81% of the time (294 days per year), with moderate air quality 17% of the time. This represents significantly better air quality compared to 2012-2015 (good air quality for just 272 days per year). Unhealthy air days were registered 1.4% (5 days per year). Comparatively, San Francisco, due to its proximity to the sea and prevailing winds is deemed to have relatively good air quality overall, registered 278 good air days in 2018,(1) whereas the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area, known as among the most populated areas of the United States, registered just 66 good air days in 2019(2).
The percentage of the population exposed to health-related risks through contaminated drinking water is consistently low, with the exception of an unusual spike in Winnebago between 2013 and 2014. Surface water contamination may be linked to the presence of blue-green algae, which results in high phosphorus and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the most commonly found water pollutants. A water quality advisory was issued by Winnebago Health Department regarding blue-green algae in Lake Winnebago in 2019(3).
Renewable energy currently accounts for around 6% of the energy generated in the Fox Cities area. The highest proportion of renewable energy generating power in the Fox Cities region is hydroelectric power, coming from hydroelectric plants in Outagamie and making up more than 80% of the total renewable energy sources in 2015.
Waste recycling has remained relatively stable in the Fox Cities region, with a significant increase in Calumet in 2019, a steady increase in Winnebago, and a steady decrease in Outagamie. The conservation of open space and the creation of public parks have lasting economic and health benefits for communities including reducing storm water management and drinking water costs, reducing air pollution, protecting habitats for wild animals, and promoting physical activity.
Water consumption in all Fox Cities counties, and across Wisconsin, has slightly declined since 2015. All Fox Cities counties had a slightly higher carbon footprint than the state and national averages in 2014 (the most recent data available), with Calumet having the highest CO2 production. The two main culprits of carbon consumption in the region are transportation and housing.
From 2015-2019, carpooling and working from home were two primary alternative commute modes in the Fox Cities region. Rates of public transportation usage in Fox Cities were almost one-third of those in Oshkosh, almost one-third of those in Wisconsin, and about one-tenth of the United States. Calumet had the lowest rate of public transportation usage, and Winnebago had the highest. Public transportation usage in Outagamie and Winnebago declined slightly from 2011 to 2018.