You’ve probably heard a lot about the pollution in Beijing lately, and you’re probably thinking, “That’s disgusting! Don’t they know that’s so bad for them and the environment?” But it’s time to take a good, hard look at ourselves, America. We’re not much better. Here are the most polluted cities in the U.S., based on year round particle pollution.
(Note: There are cities that rank differently based on the quality of the ozone, but this article covers PPM (particles per million) because that is what most affects human and animal health in the cities listed.)
- Los Angeles
This city has been on the list for quite some time now, and shows no signs of retiring. Actually one of the most polluted cities in the world, L.A. is constantly covered in brown smog. Not a very beautiful sight.
- through 7. California
Pretty much all of California is a polluted mess. Most scientists blame the pollution from cars and the amount of traffic and congestion present. Other concerns are the amount of industry and expansion that take place in the majority of California. It’s not a pretty sight, even with California’s efforts to “green things up.” Recently, California experienced one of the worst droughts in history, proving that pollution can affect the weather, the land, and therefore the inhabitants of the area.
- Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati is a very industrial city, lending itself to its high particles per million rating. Along with traffic and commute congestion, the city looks pretty dingy and has very low air quality.
- Pittsburgh, PA
Another industrial city, as well as a thriving downtown area, Pittsburgh is known to be quite grimy. There is a layer of smog in the mornings, but most of the problem comes from the condensed nature of the city and the amount of exhaust and pollution in the air.
- Akron, OH
A commuter thoroughfare and a low regulation industrial area, Akron has high particle per million rates. Pediatric asthma is quite high here, and general breathing air quality is rated very low.
- Philadelphia, PA through 13.
Pennsylvania in general has a very industrial and cramped feel to it. While Philadelphia is considered the downtown metropolis of Pennsylvania, it has some of the lowest air quality ratings in the U.S. Mostly to blame is the traffic exhaust and congestion in such confined spaces. Two more Pennsylvania cities follow suit: Harrisburg and Johnstown.
- New York, NY
Surprisingly, the most populated city in the U.S. is 14th on the pollution in parts per million. This could be mostly because it’s next to impossible to drive in the city, so most residents walk and take mass transportation. But Manhattan is virtually an island, so gridlock is common and horrible. This alone makes for a high pollution rate, with all the exhaust from vehicles idling. In addition, the industrial areas are so close to other “livable” areas that air quality continues to take a hit.