Skip to content

The "Most Polluted" States in America, According to New Report

The American Lung Association released a list of places where you might not breathe too deeply.

The American Lung Association has released a new list of the most polluted cities in America. In making each determination, the foundation assessed air quality along these lines: by the amount of ozone in the air; by short-term particle pollution; and by the amount of particle pollution evident in the area year-round. We've assembled this list of the most polluted states in America by the number of times localities in each state appeared on each of the three lists. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss this urgent news: Here's How You Can Catch COVID Even If You're Vaccinated.



Drone shot of a woman walking down a street toward Downtown Los Angeles.

Four cities in California occupied the top four rankings in two of the ALA's lists: Ozone and year-round particle pollution. Localities in California comprised six of the 10 most polluted cities nationwide in terms of short-term particle pollution. Across all three lists, California cities occupied 27 out of the top 75 most polluted cities nationwide.




Phoenix occupied #5 in the ALA's list of the most polluted cities by ozone level; it was sandwiched between four California cities above and two below. Nationwide, Phoenix also came in #8 most polluted by year-round particles, and #13 by short-term particles.



Road crossover Texas

The Houston-The Woodlands area came in #11 among the 25 U.S. cities most polluted by ozone; it was preceded by seven cities in California, and El Paso and Dallas joined it on the list. McAllen-Edinburg, Texas, came in #15 in year-round particle pollution, tied with Chicago with Houston ranking at #20. 



Sunrise View of Portland, Oregon from Pittock Mansion.

Medford-Grants Pass, Oregon, came in #5 among the cities most affected by year-round particle pollution. Eugene-Springfield came in #15 on the same list, and Portland, Medford-Grants Pass, and Eugene-Springfield also ranked in the top 25 cities most affected by short-term particle pollution.



Juneau, Alaska. Aerial view of the Gastineau channel and Douglas Island.

Fairbanks, Alaska, ranked #1 in terms of short-term particle pollution, and #6 in year-round particle pollution. That was enough to secure the state a spot in the top 5 nationwide.

RELATED: Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA downtown city skyline at dusk.

Areas in Pennsylvania popped up all over the top 75 spots in the three lists, earning 8 spots either for its own cities (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Lancaster) or as part of the New York City or Washington, D.C. metro areas.



Salt Lake City ranked as the country's #8 city most polluted by ozone and #17 on the city most polluted by short-term particles; Logan, Utah, joined it on the latter.



An old house sits in front of a factory in Springfield Ohio

Three localities in Ohio earned spots on the top 15 cities most affected by year-round particle pollution (the Pittsburgh-Weirton-New Castle metro area, #9; Cincinnati, #11; and Cleveland, #14); Pittsburgh-Weirton-New Castle also ranked #16 on the cities with the most short-term particle pollution.



Seattle skyline at sunset, WA, USA

Yakima, Washington, came in an eye-popping #5 nationwide in rankings of cities affected by short-term particle pollution. Four other localities in the state made the top 25: Spokane, Seattle, and the Salem-Portland-Vancouver metro area.



Downtown Denver, Colorado, USA Drone Skyline Aerial Panorama

Denver hit #8 in the top 25 cities most polluted by ozone, with Fort Collins tying with Dallas at #17. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
Filed Under