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50 U.S. Metropolitan areas Using the Dirtiest Air

Almost half of all Americans—45.8 percent, or 150 million people—live in counties with unhealthy air quality, according to the American Lung Association’s 2020 State of the Air report. Poor air quality, including unhealthy ozone or particle pollution, can lead to respiratory issues that are known to shorten lifespans, contribute to the risk of lower birth weight in newborns, and cause myriad tangential health problems.

Despite this knowledge, the number of people living amid unsafe air quality continues to grow; 2020 numbers are up from 134 million people reported in 2018. To learn more about where in the country the air is the dirtiest, Stacker analyzed the 2019 Air Quality Statistics Report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), released in May 2020. From there, we compiled a list of the 50 cities with the dirtiest air.

To help track air quality around the country, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created National Ambient Air Quality standards. The two most relevant thresholds are 150 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter of air over a 24-hour period for coarse particulate matter (PM10) and 12 micrograms of pollutants for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Air quality was ranked according to the amount of particulate matter (PM) between 2.5 and 10 micrometers in the air. The higher the amount of particulate matter, the dirtier the quality of air. In the case of cities with equal amounts of particulate matter, the city with dirtier air was determined by which city had the highest particulate matter on the second dirtiest day. Any city with an annual mean amount of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers was not included in this ranking. The second-highest days were also included to rule out unusually low outliers.

One important note about the data is that rankings were determined by typical or average values. Exceptionally high or low values were regarded as outliers and not used to quantify the mean average particulate matter upon which the rankings were based. We also included other explainers as to factors, such as industries and climate factors, that could also account for low air quality in these cities.

Keep reading to see if your city ranks in the top 50 for dirtiest air.

45. Joplin, Missouri

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 22 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 88 μg/m^3 (70.5% below EPA standard)

Joplin was incorporated in 1873, drawing people there for mineral mining including lead and zinc. The city grew in leaps and bounds around the turn of the 20th century as railroads connected it to other cities around the U.S. and Joplin established itself as a central transportation center in Missouri. Today, Joplin continues to be at the center of multiple modes of transportation including major highways, contributing to air pollution in the area.

45. Laramie, Wyoming

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 22 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 82 μg/m^3 (82.9% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 4 μg/m^3 (200.0% below EPA standard)

Wildfires such as the Badger Creek Wildfire in 2018 have contributed significantly to the smoke pollution in the air. The Department of Environmental Quality maintains air-quality sensors on top of the UW Engineering building to provide an accurate air quality index for Laramie.

45. Payson, Arizona

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 22 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 191 μg/m^3 (21.5% above EPA standard)

Payson, with a population of just over 15,000, is surrounded by the Tonto National Forest. Its proximity to Phoenix (the cities are less than 100 miles apart) and highways works against Payson’s air quality. The Environment Arizona Research and Policy Center has recommended improving air quality by transitioning to clean energy and imposing stricter rules on fuel economy standards.

45. Portland-South Portland, Maine

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 22 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 91 μg/m^3 (64.8% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 9.3 μg/m^3 (29.0% below EPA standard)

The EPA in February 2021 settled a case with the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation resolving allegations of hazardous waste regulations violations at the company’s semiconductor manufacturing facility in South Portland, Maine. The company agreed to comply with federal regulations to lower air pollution and VOC emissions, both of which were expected to contribute to improved air quality for the city and surrounding areas.

45. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 22 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 90 μg/m^3 (66.7% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 8.4 μg/m^3 (42.9% below EPA standard)

Open-air farm burning has contributed to air-quality issues throughout the Sacramento region. In February 2021, the California Air Resources Control Board agreed to phase out open-air agricultural burning by 2025.

45. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 22 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 87 μg/m^3 (72.4% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 6.8 μg/m^3 (76.5% below EPA standard)

A large air pollution contributor in Santa Barbara comes from ash stirred up in the aftermath of wildfires in surrounding areas. Local government agency Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District aims to help protect the environment and residents from the impact of air pollution, with on-staff experts in meteorology, engineering, and environmental science.

42. Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 23 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 80 μg/m^3 (87.5% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 10.6 μg/m^3 (13.2% below EPA standard)

Air pollution throughout the Birmingham region of Alabama has dropped more than most other American urban areas since 2009, according to a 2020 study. Nevertheless, the area in 2019 was ranked 14th-worst in the country for year-round particulate air pollution.

42. Kalispell, Montana

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 23 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 83 μg/m^3 (80.7% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 6.4 μg/m^3 (87.5% below EPA standard)

High traffic, especially during the wintertime, causes the amount of particulate matter in the air to increase. Temperature inversions also contribute to poor air quality in this area.

42. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 23 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 86 μg/m^3 (74.4% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 14.2 μg/m^3 (15.5% above EPA standard)

Pittsburgh’s air quality has been so notoriously bad that three-quarters of a century ago, the metropolitan area earned the unusual descriptor of “Hell with the Lid Off.” Much has changed since, with air quality improving as steel mills shut down over several decades leading into the 1980s. A 2021 report from Pittsburgh Works found that Allegheny County met federal standards at all eight local air monitors for the first time.

36. Bishop, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 24 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 529 μg/m^3 (71.6% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 5.2 μg/m^3 (130.8% below EPA standard)

36. Boulder, Colorado

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 24 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 52 μg/m^3 (188.5% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 7.8 μg/m^3 (53.8% below EPA standard)

Colorado’s Front Range Urban Corridor includes major state cities including Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. The region has consistently struggled to meet air-quality standards laid out by the EPA. Wildfires regularly disrupt efforts to improve the air throughout the Boulder area.

36. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 24 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 50 μg/m^3 (200.0% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 10.7 μg/m^3 (12.1% below EPA standard)

In Texas’ Hidalgo County, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Laredo, and McAllen rank among the cleanest when it comes to ozone pollution. But McAllen, Brownsville, and Houston also rank among the 25 cities with the worst particle-pollution levels. Particle pollution has been shown to contribute to the risk for health issues ranging from strokes to cancer.

36. Monroe, Michigan

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 24 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 70 μg/m^3 (114.3% below EPA standard)

Monroe, Michigan, falls within Monroe County—a region regularly tagged with air-quality alerts or “ozone action days.” In 2020, DTE Energy Co. reached an agreement with the federal government to lower air pollution from its coal-fired power plants in Southeast Michigan.

36. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 24 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 163 μg/m^3 (8.0% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 7.6 μg/m^3 (57.9% below EPA standard)

Much of the pollution in this region comes from the pesticide use, power plants, and Superfund cleanup sites. The area’s air quality is also impacted by smoke from wildfires in the state: In 2018, the Ventura County Health Care Agency offered its residents free face masks after brush fires led to poor air quality.

36. Stockton-Lodi, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 24 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 116 μg/m^3 (29.3% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 9.4 μg/m^3 (27.7% below EPA standard)

More cities impacted by smoke from the region’s wildfires include Stockton and Lodi in the San Joaquin Valley (south of San Francisco). The burning of carbon-based fuels, including vehicle emissions, is also to blame. In January 2019, the California Air Resources Board announced a plan for cleaning up the valley’s dangerous air and meeting federal standards for fine particle pollution.

32. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 25 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 65 μg/m^3 (130.8% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 12.6 μg/m^3 (4.8% above EPA standard)

Much of the air pollution in the area comes from the automobile industry and vehicle emissions from the multitude of trucks on local roads. More than 150 sites in southwest Detroit emit dangerous particles and chemicals into the air, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, and PM2.5. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reported that 5.5 percent of annual deaths in Detroit can be linked to PM2.5 exposure.

32. Gillette, Wyoming

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 25 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 108 μg/m^3 (38.9% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 2.1 μg/m^3 (471.4% below EPA standard)

A big contributor to air pollution is the weather conditions in the area. Conditions such as cold weather, low wind, and a great deal of snow increase the formation of ozone in the atmosphere.

32. Laredo, Texas

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 25 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 48 μg/m^3 (212.5% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 10.7 μg/m^3 (12.1% below EPA standard)

Oil production in Texas’ Permian Basin was expected to double between 2018 and 2023, with direct consequences to air quality in the region. Laredo Petroleum, a major player in the region, has seen significant growth in the last several years.

32. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 25 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 129 μg/m^3 (16.3% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 7 μg/m^3 (71.4% below EPA standard)

California State Parks have worked to improve air quality around Southern California’s Oceano Dunes, which cover 18 miles along the coast where many enjoy off-roading and camping. Conservationists have expressed concern that these activities are endangering plant and animal species, as well as increasing overall pollution in the area.

29. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Indiana

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 26 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 57 μg/m^3 (163.2% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 12.5 μg/m^3 (4.0% above EPA standard)

A major factor for air pollution in the Indianapolis region is the lack of public transportation, which fuels high usage of cars and high emissions into the air. Another notable contributor is the coal-fired power plants that are carried by winds to other parts of Indiana.

29. Kansas City, Missouri-Kansas

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 26 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 71 μg/m^3 (111.3% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 7.6 μg/m^3 (57.9% below EPA standard)

29. Sierra Vista-Douglas, Arizona

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 26 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 97 μg/m^3 (54.6% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 5.1 μg/m^3 (135.3% below EPA standard)

The main contributor to air pollution in Sierra Vista is the high ozone count in the atmosphere. Out of 228 metro areas, the American Lung Association ranked Sierra Vista No. 123 for high-ozone days, but the metro surprisingly tied for first place for the country’s cleanest metro area in regards to 24-hour particle pollution.

28. Duluth, Minnesota-Wisconsin

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 27 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 81 μg/m^3 (85.2% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 5.5 μg/m^3 (118.2% below EPA standard)

A significant contributor to air pollution in this northern Minnesota region comes from the smoke from the wildfires that occur in Canada. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported that smoke from July 2019 wildfires in Manitoba and Ontario in Canada made its way to northern Minnesota, adding that visibility in the area decreased to under 1 or 2 miles. MPCA issued air quality alerts to surrounding towns, including Duluth, a Minnesota town that boarders Wisconsin.

27. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 28 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 159 μg/m^3 (5.7% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 13.4 μg/m^3 (10.4% above EPA standard)

The majority of air pollution in L.A. comes from vehicle emissions—especially from large trucks; the trucking industry is prominent in L.A. The Harbor Commissioners of L.A. recently voted to approve the Clean Air Action plan to help transition diesel trucks to run on electric power.

22. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 29 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 63 μg/m^3 (138.1% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 10.7 μg/m^3 (12.1% below EPA standard)

Much of the poor air quality in Houston is the result of climate change: The higher temperatures in the summer stimulate formation of ozone in the atmosphere. Particulate matter is also high in Houston from disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, which released more than 8 million pounds of particulates into the atmosphere.

22. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 29 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 104 μg/m^3 (44.2% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 8.3 μg/m^3 (44.6% below EPA standard)

The high temperatures and intense sunlight in the Las Vegas region trigger the formation of ozone in the atmosphere. Particulate matter from vehicle and tailpipe emissions also adds to the pollution here.

22. Merced, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 29 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 80 μg/m^3 (87.5% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 9.6 μg/m^3 (25.0% below EPA standard)

The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago estimates that the average Merced resident could live seven months longer if the region could meet the World Health Organization’s standards of soot exposure levels. The area would need to impose strict emissions controls to meet WHO‘s standards.

22. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 29 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 83 μg/m^3 (80.7% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 8 μg/m^3 (50.0% below EPA standard)

Much of the air pollution in these regions comes from inversions, which is when warm air gets sandwiched between cold air layers. This formation prevents pollutants from being able to disperse out into the atmosphere.

22. Ponce, Puerto Rico

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 29 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 94 μg/m^3 (59.6% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 6.3 μg/m^3 (90.5% below EPA standard)

Sahara dust in 2020 moved across Puerto Rico in a concentration that hadn’t been recorded in 50 years. The territory has been under pressure in recent years by the EPA to reduce emission levels, which some say could be achieved with more effort put toward green infrastructure.

21. Modesto, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 30 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 104 μg/m^3 (44.2% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 10.6 μg/m^3 (13.2% below EPA standard)

The large agricultural sector in Modesto contributes to emissions released that affect the atmosphere. Modesto is located in the San Joaquin Valley, which as a whole experiences poor air quality.

20. Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 31 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 79 μg/m^3 (89.9% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 10.9 μg/m^3 (10.1% below EPA standard)

Much of Cleveland’s air pollution comes from coal-burning power plants and vehicle emissions, which come from cars, trucks, trains, and boats in the area. Byproducts of lawn care equipment used in the region also contribute to the pollution.

18. Nogales, Arizona

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 32 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 108 μg/m^3 (38.9% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 8.8 μg/m^3 (36.4% below EPA standard)

Nogales’ air quality is regularly a point of concern in Arizona, as people living closer to the U.S./Mexico border often use more wood for fires, contributing to higher PM levels than in northern cities like Tucson. Long-term exposure to lower air quality such as in Nogales has been linked to health issues ranging from asthma to reduced lung function.

18. San Diego-Carlsbad, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 32 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 153 μg/m^3 (2.0% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 8.6 μg/m^3 (39.5% below EPA standard)

The heat waves and wildfires common in San Diego have played a major role in increasingly unhealthy ozone levels. The American Lung Association has found that part of the problem lies in mountains in the area trapping polluted air.

17. El Paso, Texas

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 33 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 79 μg/m^3 (89.9% below EPA standard)

A binational air-quality committee in 2021 created a fund to help monitor air quality in El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico. The fund, if goals are met, would funnel $100,000 into supporting three air-quality monitors and system improvements.

13. Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Illinois

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 35 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 129 μg/m^3 (16.3% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 9.6 μg/m^3 (25.0% below EPA standard)

The pollution in the air in the Davenport area is from the particles emitted by vehicular traffic. The stagnant air also prevents pollutant particles from being able to freely disperse.

13. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 35 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 111 μg/m^3 (35.1% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 10 μg/m^3 (20.0% below EPA standard)

The major contributors to air pollution are increased vehicle traffic and increased building construction. Another issue is the smoke from wildfires in Western states drifting eastward toward Denver.

13. St. Louis, Missouri

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 35 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 99 μg/m^3 (51.5% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 10.5 μg/m^3 (14.3% below EPA standard)

Much of the air pollution from the area comes from the high temperatures during the summer, which drive ozone formation, and from the sulfur dioxide emitted from power plants and other industries in the area.

13. Yuma, Arizona

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 35 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 174 μg/m^3 (13.8% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 7.9 μg/m^3 (51.9% below EPA standard)

The Yuma County Farm Bureau has made active educational efforts to teach Yuma’s agricultural sector about best management practices to protect their atmosphere. Growers in the area must follow practices such as conservation irrigation, reduced speeds on roads, and planting based on soil moisture.

10. Albuquerque, New Mexico

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 36 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 141 μg/m^3 (6.4% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 7.7 μg/m^3 (55.8% below EPA standard)

Much of the air pollution in Albuquerque comes from the burning of fuels such as gas, oil, and coal. Airports and vehicle traffic are massive sources of emissions.

10. Madera, California 

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 36 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 155 μg/m^3 (3.2% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 9.7 μg/m^3 (23.7% below EPA standard)

The American Lung Association’s 2019 State of the Air report ranked the Madera-Fresno-Hanford area the worst in the country for 24-hour soot and the fourth-worst in smog. Several events were canceled by the Madera Parks and Community Services during the time period ALA looked at (2015–2017) due to poor air quality exacerbated by extremely high temperatures.

10. Rapid City, South Dakota

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 36 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 170 μg/m^3 (11.8% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 5.9 μg/m^3 (103.4% below EPA standard)

Smoke from wildfires in Western states affects air pollution in South Dakota. Dust is a major issue in Rapid City, which harms air quality, and is worsened by the location of quarries in the northwest corner of the city.

8. Fresno, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 39 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 234 μg/m^3 (35.9% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 11.2 μg/m^3 (7.1% below EPA standard)

A major source of air pollution in Fresno is ozone from vehicle emissions. Emissions from the agricultural and construction industries in the area are also part of the problem.

8. Tucson, Arizona

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 39 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 139 μg/m^3 (7.9% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 5 μg/m^3 (140.0% below EPA standard)

The high-pressure weather systems coupled with intense heat and solar radiation contribute to high ozone layers in this region. Pima County, where Tucson is located, regularly issues ozone warnings to residents.

7. El Centro, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 44 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 162 μg/m^3 (7.4% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 10.8 μg/m^3 (11.1% below EPA standard)

The hot, arid climate in El Centro contributes greatly to its air pollution. El Centro shares a border with Mexico, which has much looser clean air regulations than its neighbor to the north. El Centro has put in efforts with the Mexican government to prevent vehicles that do not meet U.S. emission standards from crossing the border.

5. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 46 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 139 μg/m^3 (7.9% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 15.4 μg/m^3 (22.1% above EPA standard)

The National Science Foundation gave Riverside a $1.2 million dollar grant to provide curriculum about air pollution to high school students in the area and help promote awareness of the problem.

5. Visalia-Porterville, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 46 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 284 μg/m^3 (47.2% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 12.9 μg/m^3 (7.0% above EPA standard)

Since the burning of solids (e.g., wood and pellets) causes air pollution, residents can only burn these materials between November and February to reduce air pollution.

4. Hanford-Corcoran, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 49 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 304 μg/m^3 (50.7% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 12.3 μg/m^3 (2.4% above EPA standard)

The geography of the Valley which Hanford resides in contributes largely to its air pollution. The hot summers coupled with stagnant air and mountainous terrain creates makes this part of California susceptible to high-smog levels.

3. Las Cruces, New Mexico

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 53 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 149 μg/m^3 (0.7% below EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 8 μg/m^3 (50.0% below EPA standard)

Much of the air pollution in this region is not from vehicle emissions or manufacturing, but rather from the many dust storms that pass through the region.

2. Bakersfield, California

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 54 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 382 μg/m^3 (60.7% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 13 μg/m^3 (7.7% above EPA standard)

The geography and topography of the San Joaquin Valley makes Bakersfield especially susceptible to smog formation and particulate buildups during certain weather systems.

1. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona

– Average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 59 μg/m^3
– Second-highest average coarse particulate matter (PM10): 222 μg/m^3 (32.4% above EPA standard)
– Average fine particulate matter (PM2.5): 11.3 μg/m^3 (6.2% below EPA standard)

Huge contributors to the poor air in Phoenix include emissions from cars and chemical solvent waste from small industrial businesses. A 2018 report by the Environment Arizona Research & Policy Center found that in 2016, the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area had 100 days of “degraded” air quality.

Written by Stephanie Green

I am dreamer and book reader.

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