These Are The Most Polluted Cities In America

Did yours make the list?

Photo Credit: Ben Amstutz | CC BY 2.0

If you live in the greater Los Angeles area, or California's Central Valley, the answer is a hacking, hawking "yes." The greater basin, and California's major, midland valley, still have the worst air quality in the country, according to the American Lung Association's annual air pollution rankings, released today.

You'll find the ALA's Top-10 lists for the country's most heavily-polluted cities –by short-term particle pollution, year-round particle pollution and ozone-pollution – below.

Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-term Particle Pollution (24-hour PM 2.5)

Metropolitan Statistical Areas:

1 Fresno-Madera, California
2 Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, California
3 Bakersfield, California
4 Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
5 Modesto-Merced, California
6 Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, Pennsylvania-Ohio-West Virginia
7 Fairbanks, Alaska
8 Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, Utah
9 El Paso-Las Cruces, Texas-New Mexico
10 San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California

Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution (Annual PM 2.5)

Metropolitan Statistical Areas:

1 Fresno-Madera, California
2 Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, California
3, 4 TIED: Bakersfield, California / Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
5 Modesto-Merced, California
6 Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, Pennsylvania-Ohio-West Virginia
7 El Centro, California
8, 9, 10 TIED: El Paso-Las Cruces, Texas-New Mexico / Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona / St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, Missouri-Illinois

Top 10 Most Ozone-Polluted Cities

Metropolitan Statistical Areas:

1 Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
2 Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, California
3 Bakersfield, California
4 Fresno-Madera, California
5 Sacramento-Roseville, California
6 Houston-The Woodlands, Texas
7 Modesto-Merced, California
8 Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas-Oklahoma
8 Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, District of Columbia-Maryland-Virginia.-West Virginia-Pennsylvania
10 Las Vegas-Henderson, Nevada-Arizona

To its credit, L.A. has reduced ozone levels by more than one-third, and cut fine particle pollution by half, in the last 15 years. And California isn't the only state cleaning up its act. As the Atlantic Cities puts it, there's a silver lining to the country's "carboniferous cloud":

There's less particulate pollution throughout the United States and several cities reached their lowest-ever annual levels of particles on record, including Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Indianapolis. The ALA gives a special shout-out to a few burgs that it dubs America's "cleanest cities" for having no days with unhealthy levels of particles or ozone – pat yourself on the back if you live in Bangor, Maine; Bismarck, North Dakota; Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida; and Salinas, California. The association attributes the nationwide drop in particulate matter to the clean-up of coal power plants and cleaner kinds of diesel engines.

[L.A. Times | The Atlantic Cities]