For those looking to move to a new city, here’s the list of cities with the worst air pollution in the US, in case you want to reconsider your choices.
People think of many things when choosing where they are going to live. Jobs, cost of living, places to visit, fun activities – all of this matters. It is nice to think of the possibilities the particular city has to offer, as you may have to spend years of your life there. But there is another thing you have to think of – air pollution.
Why is that so important and why should you care about the air? According to the American Lung Association, more than four out of ten people live in areas with unhealthy air, and that is a fact. If we transfer that to percent, almost 40% (more precisely, 38.9%) of the American population lives in states with polluted air. This is a very serious problem, since polluted air cause variety of diseases like lung cancer, different types of asthma and so on. So, do you care about the air you breathe? Air pollution is one of the biggest problems of our society, and we need to reduce it. So, where is the worst air quality in the US today? Is there anything we can do? Governments all around the world are implementing laws and sharing recommendations to improve the quality of the air, and the US government isn’t an exception.
As you will see, the numbers aren’t good, but there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Following the tips from this association, there has been an improvement. There is a lot more to take care of, but the reduced percentage of unhealthy air should be a motivation to do more. In this article, we won’t stick to the reasons of pollution — we are going to talk about US cities with worst air quality.
So, we decided to check the air pollution by state rankings. Or more precisely, to check the cities (metropolitan areas) with the worst air pollution. We started our research with Business Insider and then continued to CBC News. Unfortunately, their results were a bit outdated as they have used information from previous years. What we looked for was the latest results, and these couldn’t offer that. That’s why we turned to the State of Air 2017 report. This American Lung Association’s report has the latest information regarding air pollution. The parameters we took for creating our list are the particle-pollution on a yearly basis and ozone. Let’s make it more simple; the particle-pollution allude to solid particles and small liquid, that come as a result of fossil fuel burning. In this category, we can also put dust and particles from forest fires as well. They are so small that you can breathe them without noticing it. On the other side, the ozone, or commonly known as smog, is a mixture of many pollutants. The researchers have created two lists, for each parameter. Since the pollution depends on both of them, we will use them both. How did ALA measure the pollution? Pretty simple, for the particle pollution, they measured the concentration of a pollutant based on the form of the annual PM2.5 and checked if it meets the standards. When it comes to the ozone, they measured the number of days in an unhealthful range for the period of two years.
However, we couldn’t stick to only one source, so we checked the Environmental Protection Agency‘s reports to find the information about the pollution in the United States in 2016. EPA takes care of the air quality for many years, and again, we checked ozone pollution and particle-pollution, just to make a comparison between the most polluted cities in the US in 2017 and the worst air polluted cities in the US in 2016 and check if there are any improvements. We included the numbers from EPA in our rankings, as well. After we overlapped their results, the cities that got the same ratings were ranked based on their population — those with a larger population are ranked higher on the list, as more people were exposed to bad-quality air.
Before we continue to our list of cities with the worst air pollution in the US, why don’t you take a look at the 25 Most Polluted Cities in the US in 2017? Read that before reading our today’s list, so you can compare them and see if there is some overlapping. For more on that topic, check out the 11 Worst Countries for Air Pollution, to learn about pollution at the global level. On the other hand, if you ever wondered, where is the best air quality in the US — just check out the very top of the 15 Cities with the Cleanest Air in the World list, and you’ll know.
Take a deep breath, and read about cities where it is not recommended to do that. Shall we proceed to our list of most air polluted cities in the US?
10. New York – Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA
When it comes to the particle-pollution, New York moved from 32nd position in 2016 to 22nd position in 2017. As for ozone pollution, it moved from 14th to 9th place. These are serious issues for this metro area with a population of more than 23.7 million, as many people are breathing polluted air.
9. San Jose – San Francisco – Oakland, CA
The air quality in this metro area is one of the worst – these cities moved from 33th to 4th position in particle-pollution; however, they made a small improvement in ozone pollution (from the 16th to 18th position) over the last year. There’s still a lot to be done regarding air pollution in this area since more than 8.71 million people are breathing it.
8. Philadelphia – Reading – Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD
This area and its cities rank 8th on our list of cities with the worst air pollution in the US. They are not doing well since they moved from 16th to 11th position for particle-pollution. However, when it comes to the ozone pollution, there is a small improvement, since cities moved from 18th to 22nd place on the list which is great; however, more than 7.18 million citizens are still exposed to air of bad quality.
7. Houston – The Woodlands, TX
This area is showing very poor results when it comes to particle-pollution. The cities in this area moved from the 23rd place in 2016 to 16th in 2017. As for ozone pollution, the situation is similar since this area moved from 15h to 12th place during the same period. Something needs to be done soon, as 6.85 million people are at constant risk of developing various diseases.
6. El Centro, CA
Not everything is bad for El Centro, the number 6 on our list of cities with the worst air pollution in the US, as there are small improvements. In the period of 2016/2017, El Centro moved from 10th to 7th when it comes to particle-pollution, and from 12th to 14th place on the list of most ozone-polluted metro areas in the US. However, the US government should continue working on reducing the pollution even though “only” 180,191 people live there.
5. Modesto – Merced, CA
No improvements for this area either, as the air is even worse in 2017 than in 2016. The cities in this area rank 5th on our list of cities with the worst air pollution in the US. They were ranked 9th in 2016 and 6th in 2017 for particle-pollution, and they moved from 7th to 6th position in the same period on the list of most ozone-polluted metro areas in the US. Radical changes need to be done as 806,843 citizens are breathing this low-quality air.
4. Los Angeles – Long Beach, CA
The metro area of Los Angeles and Long Beach is one of the places with the worst air quality. The area went from 11th place in 2016 to 5th place in 2017 for particle-pollution and for the same period it remained in the first place as the most ozone-polluted area in the whole USA. This metro area is too crowded and the population of more than 18.67 million people definitely deserves better quality of air.
And now, let’s see the top three cities with the worst air pollution in the US.
3. Fresno – Madera, CA
Whatever the reasons for pollution are, something needs to be done as soon as possible in this area, since it has moved from 9th to the 6th position for particle-pollution and from 7th to the 6th place when it comes to the ozone pollution. These are big changes for a period of one year, and the population of around 1.12 million people is at risk of serious diseases.
2. Visalia – Porterville – Hanford, CA
Are there any improvements in this area? Sadly, there isn’t, as these cities went from 4th position in 2016 to the 1st in 2017 in particle-pollution, and from 3rd to 4th spot in ozone pollution during the same period. A population of 610,828 people is at risk of diseases.
And now, let’s see the number one on our list of cities with the worst air pollution in the US.
1. Bakersfield, CA
At first sight, you may notice changes, but don’t let that fool you. It is true that Bakersfield moved from the 1st to the 2nd position when it comes to particle-pollution. However, city stays at the 2nd spot on the list of most ozone-polluted metro areas in the US. Unfortunately, 882,176 people are breathing low-quality air and that’s why these are the cities with the worst air pollution in the US.