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Which US Cities Have the Cleanest and Dirtiest Air?

chang-er, Flickr

According to new data released Wednesday by the American Lung Association (ALA), the nation’s most polluted cities now have cleaner air than at any point in the past decade — but that said, more than 120 million Americans still live in places with unhealthy levels of pollution.

In ranking the best and worst cities, the ALA took into account short-term particle pollution, most year-round particle pollution, and ozone pollution (aka smog).

ALA National Policy Advisor Janice Nolen said that while air quality has improved dramatically in many areas of California, some counties in the Southern and Central areas of the state continue to be exposed to highest levels of particle pollution and smog.

But although Los Angeles remained the city with the worst ozone levels, it’s now been replaced by Bakersfield for the highest year-round and short-term particle pollution levels, something that took Nolen by surprise. “I would have expected Los Angeles to continue to top all these lists, but the city has been moving down in recent years,” she said.

Still, California is definitely not the place to be if you’re looking for clean air — the top five dirtiest cities are all in the Golden State.

Cleanest cities, based on the lowest year-round particle pollution:

1. Santa Fe, N.M.
2. Cheyenne, Wyo.
3. Prescott, Ariz.
4. Tucson, Ariz.
5. Albuquerque, N.M.

Dirtiest cities, based on the most year-round particle pollution:

1. Bakersfield-Delano, Calif.
2. Hanford-Corcoran, Calif.
3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Calif.
4. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.
5. Fresno-Madera, Calif.


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