The California Cities With The Dirtiest (And Cleanest) Air

(NEXSTAR) – The World Health Organization announced this week that 99% of the world’s population breathes poor air quality which, when inhaled over time, can cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

While cities in the developing world have the worst air quality, according to the WHO, pollution remains a problem in US cities. There are chronic sources of air pollution, such as vehicle traffic on busy highways, as well as seasonal issues, such as smoke from wildfires.

The American Lung Association tracks air pollution in US cities, and California cities dominate its list of the unhealthiest places.

The group’s annual report uses data from the Environmental Protection Agency on the presence of two types of pollutants: ozone (or smog) and particles. Particulate matter has many sources, such as transportation, power plants, agriculture, fires, and industry, as well as natural sources like desert dust.

Using data from the EPA, the report ranks the most and least polluted metropolitan areas. On the list of the 10 most polluted cities, metropolitan areas in California occupy seven places.

Californian cities most polluted by ozone (or smog) are:

  1. Los Angeles-Long Beach
  2. Bakersfield
  3. Visalia
  4. Fresno-Madera-Hanford
  5. Sacramento-Roseville
  6. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad
  7. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland
  8. The center
  9. Chicco
  10. Redding-Red Bluff

The cities most polluted by particles all year round are:

  1. Bakersfield
  2. Fresno-Madera-Hanford
  3. Visalia
  4. Los Angeles-Long Beach
  5. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland
  6. The center
  7. Sacramento-Roseville
  8. Redding-Red Bluff

“Particles, particularly PM2.5, are capable of penetrating deep into the lungs and entering the bloodstream, causing cardiovascular, cerebrovascular (stroke) and respiratory impacts,” the WHO said. “There is new evidence that the particles impact other organs and also cause other diseases.”

The American Lung Association also keeps track of which cities have the least air pollution. Only one Californian city makes the list of the 25 least polluted cities by particles: Salinas in Monterey County.

The ten U.S. cities with the cleanest air, free of particulate pollution are:

  1. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
  2. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii
  3. Cheyenne, Wyoming
  4. Wilmington, North Carolina
  5. Casper, Wyoming
  6. St. George, Utah
  7. Bellingham, WA
  8. Elmira Corning, New York
  9. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  10. Duluth, Minnesota/Wisconsin

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bernard P. Love