Cities with Worst Air Pollution (Top 10 List)

smog los angeles california

The American Lung Association (ALA) recently released State of the Air 2011, its annual report on air pollution and which cities have got the worst. In total, 18.5 million Americans live in regions with unhealthy levels of year-round particle pollution.

According to the ALA, 13,000 Americans a year are killed from particle pollution from power plants alone.

And for people in “at-risk” groups, like people who already have asthma, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, the hazards of such pollution are even greater.

Now, one more thing before we dive into the worst-polluted U.S. cities….

The GOP has regularly demonized and tried to take down the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Clean Air Act. As you can see above, our air is not so clean, our environment (which we rely on to live and live healthily) is not so protected. Why do they do this?.. Because they are bought by the polluters, who are raking in big money and can afford to buy less-than-ethical politicians. Now, some Democrats get bought by such polluting billionaires, but for the most part, it is clearly the Republican leaders of our country who go that route.

In fact, the top Republicans have garnered so much power for group-think and follow-the-leader, even if more concerned, long-term-thinking Republicans want to do what’s right, they would essentially be committing political suicide by going against the party leadership.

A 2009 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that, in recent years, the Clean Air Act added 4-8 months to the average American’s life expectancy.

Furthermore, as Brian Merchant of TreeHugger reports:

77% of Americans want Congress to let the EPA do its job.
-The Clean Air Act will save $2 trillion and 230,000 lives by 2020
-Clean Air Act will create 1.5 million new jobs

It seems that the GOP should stop its attack on our air and environment.

But it will only do so if voters actually hold it accountable… we need to stop voting for these polluters and run more candidates who will protect our critical natural environment.

Anyway, here’s the top 10 list:

10. Modesto, California and Louisville-Jefferson County-Elizabethtown-Scottsburg, Kentucky-Indiana (tie)

9. Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana

8. Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, Alabama

7. Pittsburgh-Newcastle, Pennsylvania

6. Fresno-Madera, California

5. Hanford-Corcoran, California

2. Visalia-Porterville, California and Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Arizona and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, California (tie)

1. Bakersfield-Delano, California

Of course, the pollution in these areas is partly from power plants and industry, but it automobile pollution is another main source (if not the leading source). Living in less auto-oriented environments and taking greener transportation options like bicycling and transit is one critical way to address pollution in the U.S. (other than voting for politicians who will cut pollution and not feed to it).

Photo via Ben Amstutz

2 thoughts on “Cities with Worst Air Pollution (Top 10 List)”

  1. While I don’t dispute the findings of the ALA, the conclusions of the article are not entirely warranted by the facts. I live in #5, Hanford, and a large proportion of the particulate matter is a result of agricultural activity. This area produces ~10% of US produce on <1/2% of US farmland. Trust me, the soil in this area is heavily worked. Five of the top !0 are in my immediate area as well.
    Here's a link to an article published today about this problem:

  2. I find it pretty crazy that Newark, NJ and it’s surrounding areas did not make this study. Once June rolls along we have ‘Air Warnings’ all the time, telling us how bad the air quality will be that particular day. This survey sucks for Cali.

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