10 Surprising Cities Battling Alarming Air Pollution

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Email this to someone

For future homeowner across the country, there’s a lot to consider when purchasing a house or investing in a rent to buy property. From school system ratings to median home values, to the strength of the local job market, one simply can’t do too much research. When it comes to health and safety in particular, due diligence is key for any family. That’s why figures like crime statistics are so essential. For the average family however, one metric being considered is probably not the quality of the air.

The air we breathe is something most of us take for granted. After all, access to resources like clean air and water should definitely be a given anywhere in the country. Unfortunately, some locations in the US are simply worse off than others when it comes to air pollution, and that might be something you should take into consideration before you make the big move. That’s definitely true if you already have respiratory issues. Keep that in mind if you plan to move to one of these 10 cities which, according to the latest report from the American Lung Association, have the worst air pollution in the nation.

10) Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio, and its surrounding population centers including Akron and Canton, was a booming industrial center for most of its modern history, and that has taken an environmental toll on the region. Heavy pollution became a staple for the residents who lived there and, though it’s not the production center it once was, issues certainly remain. Air quality has improved steadily over the years, but it’s still the 10th worst in the nation.

9) Pittsburgh

Like Cleveland, Pittsburgh was also a thriving industry town and at the heart of steel country. Compared to Cleveland’s air pollution, however, Pittsburgh’s was actually much worse. With coal fires burning in residents’ homes and factories at full production, historical accounts reference a sky that turned black by 9AM. Today, the situation is much better, but with factories like U.S. Steel still pumping harmful chemicals in the air along with neighboring manufacturing plants, Pittsburgh has an average of 12.5 dangerous days of air quality per year.

8) Cincinnati

Cincinnati and its neighboring areas have a problem with population density and geography. Due to high concentrations of traffic and congestion within a river valley, air pollution tends to hang over the region. The city had to issue multiple poor air quality warnings during hot and hazy days this past summer.

7) San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area, which includes San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland California, has the third largest combined population at risk of illness as a direct result of air pollution. Last year, it experienced its highest level of high particle pollution on record. San Joaquin County had an average of 54 days at orange level (dangerous for people with respiratory issues) and red level (dangerous for everyone) last year.

6) El Centro

El Centro suffers from the same issue that’s currently plaguing much of California, and the reason why a striking 4 out of 10 of the most air polluted cities belong to the Golden State. Record highs, some of the worst wildfires ever, and the prolonged mega drought have exasperated a pre-existing pollution problem. These hot and dry conditions with smoke filled air that trap pollutants are the reason why hazardous particles are at such high levels in cities like El Centro which has the 6th worst air quality in the US.

5) Los Angeles

Los Angeles, a city notorious for smog, has actually made incredible gains in air quality which has improved steadily and considerably over the last few decades due to clean air regulations including aggressive limitations on car emissions. Nevertheless, poor air quality still plagues the city. LA has the busiest seaport in the country, which experienced its highest volume yet this past year. The emissions from the port alone would be a major hit to LA air quality, but the metro area must also contend with a high concentration of power plants, regular gridlocked traffic congestion, and a bowl like geography which traps emissions within the city. All come together to result in Los Angeles experiencing a bafflingly high 117.7 days of high ozone levels each year, the highest in America.

4) Modesto – Merced, California

Nearly dead in the center of the California’s central valley, this metropolitan area experiences even less rainfall than other nearby cities with limited wind and weather to push away stagnant, polluted air. Only one out of six cities in the country that failed to meet air quality standards the previous year in which particle pollution worsened.  

3) Visalia – Porterville – Hanford California

Just behind LA in levels of high ozone pollution, the combined metro areas of Visalia, Porterville, and Hanford experienced the worst year yet for particle pollution. In particular, pollution from nearby forest fires have worsened the air in recent years.

2) Bakersfield, California

In addition to experiencing the same issues as other California central valley cities, Bakerfield also has an expansive farming industry which is often overlooked as a significant source of air pollution compared to factories. Here, toxic gases from manure spread over millions of acres of farmland are a large factor behind high levels of particle pollution.

1) Fresno

The air pollution in Fresno is better than it was the previous year, but it’s still unfortunately the worst in the United States. The metro area seems to have everything working against it from a geography that traps the bad air in, to terrible drought and wildfire conditions that result in dirt and dust storms that sweep across the area. Fresno also has multiple power plants and large manufacturing centers. Of a population of about 1.1 million, nearly 100 thousands residents suffer from asthma.