The American Lung Association has used Environmental Protection Agency data to rank the air quality of U.S. cities. The ALA found that 10% of Americans live where year-round particle pollution levels are too high, and the majority of the country’s population lives where ozone pollution is too high.
California metropolitan areas dominate three dubious pollution categories: pollution levels by ozone, year round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution. Bakersfield and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside were each at the top of one pollution category and in the top five of the other two. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale in Arizona was named worst for year round pollution, but missed the top ten in the other two categories.
Cheyenne, Wyoming was ranked the nation’s best city for lowest year round pollution. Only three metropolitan areas made the top 25 for lowest year round polution and earned a top score for pollution levels by ozone and short-term particle pollution:
- Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, TX
- Fargo-Wahpeton, ND-MN
- Lincoln, NE
Three other California metro areas made the top 10 in each of the three most polluted categories:
Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, which covers parts of California and Nevada, ranked in the top six of two most polluted categories. Pittsburgh-New Castle in Pennsylvania ranked in the top five in two dirty categories. Also among the unclean was Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman in Alabama, ranking in the top seven in two categories.
The 2010 State of the Air report has the full list of rankings and let’s you search for your town or anywhere you plan to visit.
Air quality letter grades for high ozone days and particle pollution for some of NileGuide’s favorite cities:
- Washington, D.C.: F
- San Francisco: A/D
- New York: I/F (not graded for high ozone days, incomplete monitoring)
- Philadelphia: F/F
- San Diego: F/F