10 U.S. Cities With the Worst Air Quality

10 U.S. Cities With the Worst Air Quality

Around 68 million tonnes of pollution were emitted into the air in the USA in 2020. Air quality has been consistently declining across the country for many decades now. 

Some areas are affected worse than others. Sometimes this is down to their geography and landscape. Other times, however, it is because of intense human activity. 

So which cities in the US have the worst air quality?

Cities With the Worst Air Quality

The vast majority of these cities with bad air quality are situated on the West Coast. It’s an area of the United States that suffers from a combination of massive industrial hubs and rural landscapes that are prone to dust storms, wildfires, and other natural occurrences that can reduce the overall air quality. 

Outdoor air quality is not the only issue. If you live in one of these cities, then it’s likely that your indoor air quality has also been negatively affected.

If you suffer from poor air quality indoors, you can use air filters to clean it up and make your home more comfortable and healthy. 

1. Bakersfield, CA

The mostly rural area of Bakersfield, California, might seem like an odd place to be at number one on this list, but the region suffers from some pretty severe air quality issues. The issues are primarily due to Bakersfield’s title as the oil capital of California, so emissions are very high.

It’s also not helped by its geography. The area sits within a vast bowl that works to collect soot in large quantities.

2. Fresno – Madera, CA

This area of California also suffers as a result of its geography and local climate. Near year-round warm weather fronts work in conjunction with high valley walls to corral the smog and stop it from leaving the area. 

3. Pheonix – Mesa, AZ

The biggest drivers of Pheonix and Mesa’s pollution problems are emissions from vehicles. The area also suffers from the problem of chemical emissions from local businesses. 

The area is also not helped by its dry and warm climate, which makes it challenging to stop smog from leaving the area.

4. Fairbanks, AK

That’s right, Alaska. The city of Fairbanks predictably suffers from quite severe winters. As the cold snap moves in and residents attempt to stay warm, they turn to wood pellet heaters. 

The heaters work by feeding small wood pellets into a furnace and using the heat to warm your home. These home heating furnaces are one of the most significant contributors to emissions in the Fairbanks area. 

5. Hanford, CA

Hanford is another area of California’s cities with bad air quality. Like Fresno and Bakersfield, it is a victim of its geography. 

Hot summers of stagnant air on the valley floor contribute to creating conditions that are super susceptible to smog. 

6. Los Angeles – Long Beach, CA

Los Angeles is famous for so many things, one of which is, unfortunately, its intense levels of smog. 

LA is the largest metropolitan area in the United States. With such a vast amount of land covered by urban areas, emissions from vehicles, planes, and industries soon begin to pile up. The problem with emissions is further compounded by the mountainous landscape surrounding the area, walling in the smog. 

7. San Jose – San Francisco – Oakland, CA

Known as the Bay Area, these Californian cities suffer similar issues to those previously mentioned on this list. It has one of the highest levels of ozone in the country. 

Warm summers and vehicle emissions come together in this area to create poor air quality. Wood-fuelled fires in the wintertime also make this a year-round problem for the Bay Area.

The area is also affected by the regular wildfires that occur in California each year. These wildfires are lethal and can emit enormous amounts of smoke and other carbon-based pollutants into the air. 

8. El Centro, CA

El Centro’s dry and hot landscape does it no favors when it comes to air quality. 

It also suffers because it sits right on the border with Mexico. Mexico has much less stringent rules on emissions and pollution than the U.S., so pollution from nearby cities over the border can come across to El Centro. 

The city has been talking with the Mexican government about preventing vehicles that don’t meet US emission standards from crossing the border. 

9. Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque is another on the list suffering from a hot and dry climate. The area is also host to many fossil fuel industries that burn coal, oil, and gas.

Traffic in and out of Albuquerque International Sunport also contributes significantly to the air quality problems in the area. 

10. Rapid City, SD

Part of the notorious “dust bowl” as it came to be known in the 1930s, Rapid City’s main air problems originate from the enormous amounts of dust in the surrounding area. 

This dust can be whipped up by bad weather conditions and dumped over large metropolitan areas like Rapid City. Smoke from wildfires in states further west of Rapid City also significantly affects its air quality. 

Breathe Cleaner Air With a Filter

The diminishing quality of the air we breathe is beginning to pose health risks to people up and down the country. While you have little control over your city’s air quality, you greatly alter the indoor air quality of your home.

The easiest step to take to improve indoor air quality is to utilize a better air filter in your HVAC system. Try a filter with a MERV 13 rating to remove smoke, smog, aerosols, bacteria, mold, and other particles from your air.

Once you’ve upgraded your air filter. Take things up another notch by adding an air purifier(s) to your home. Air purifiers come in all shapes and levels of filtering, but it’s important to make sure that the unit includes a HEPA filter.

Whether you’re looking for a new set of air filters or need a new air purifier, Discount Filters has you covered with great products at reasonable prices!

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