Most Polluted States in The US

The Clean Air Act, which is responsible for significant improvements in our air quality, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Despite this, according to a recent study from the American Lung Association, nearly half of the country’s population – 150 million people – breathe dirty air, putting their health and lives at risk.

Climate change exacerbates air pollution, according to the 21st annual “State of the Air” survey, with many western communities experiencing record-breaking increases in particle pollution due to wildfires. The effect of air pollution on lung health has been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “State of the Air” 2020 study looked at data from 2016, 2017, and 2018,  which were the most recent three years of quality-assured air pollution data. Those three years were notable for being among the five hottest in recorded history.

Changes in climate patterns contribute to wildfires and  hazardous smoke, as well as increased particle and ozone emissions. Poor air quality poses a threat to everyone, particularly children, the elderly, and people with lung diseases.

“While the air quality in some areas has improved, the ‘State of the Air’ study found that many people are still breathing polluted air,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. 

“This year’s study shows that climate change is deteriorating air quality and increasing the risk of air pollution. We must act now to safeguard the improvements in air quality that we battled for 50 years ago through the Clean Air Act such as introducing ambitious measures to protect our air quality and lung health from the threat of climate change.”

Wimmer said, “Air pollution has been related to an increased risk of lung infection.” “Keeping everyone safe from COVID-19 and other lung diseases is a timely reminder of the importance of clean air.”

Every year, “State of the Air” publishes a study on the two most common outdoor air contaminants, ozone and particle pollution. Both of these contributing factors are hazardous to public health.

Listed below are the 10 most polluted cities for each catagory of pollution.

Top 10 Cities in the United States with the Worst Short-Term Particle Pollution (24-Hour PM2.5):

  1. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, California
  2. Bakersfield, California
  3. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California
  4. Fairbanks, Alaska
  5. Yakima, Washington
  6. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
  7. Missoula, Montana
  8. Redding-Red Bluff, California
  9. Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, Utah
  10. Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona

Top 10 Cities in the United States with the Worst Year-Round Particle Pollution (Annual PM2.5):

  1. Bakersfield, California
  2. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, California
  3. Visalia, California
  4. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
  5. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California
  6. Fairbanks, Alaska
  7. Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona
  8. El Centro, California
  9. Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV
  10. Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, Michigan

Top 10 Most Ozone-Polluted Cities:

  1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
  2. Visalia, California
  3. Bakersfield, California
  4. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, California
  5. Sacramento-Roseville, California
  6. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, California
  7. Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona
  8. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California
  9. Las Vegas-Henderson, Nevada
  10. Denver-Aurora, Colorado
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