Most and Least Polluted Big American Cities

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A great deal has been made of the filth in cities in places like China and India. However, there are large cities in America that are very polluted, and several others that are pristine. has put together a list of the 10 at each end of the spectrum. used the following methodology, the factors of which were compared in America’s 150 largest cities:

Toxic chemicals released from factories
Greenhouse gas emissions per square mile
Number of Superfund sites per square mile
Air quality, measured by the number of clear days in a year
Water quality, measured by contaminants like lead, copper, arsenic, nitrate, and more

Most lists of polluted cities rely primarily on air quality.

The 10 most polluted:

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Houston
  4. New York
  5. Chicago
  6. New Orleans
  7. Reading, Pennsylvania
  8. Salt Lake City
  9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  10. Milwaukee

Interestingly, most of the old industrial cities like Buffalo and Detroit are not on the list.

The 10 cleanest:

  1. Naples, Florida
  2. Salem, Oregon
  3. Ocala, Florida
  4. Anchorage, Alaska
  5. Santa Rosa, California
  6. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  7. Eugene, Oregon
  8. Little Rock, Arkansas
  9. Salisbury, Maryland
  10. Salinas, California

Notable, there is a concentration on the west coast and another couple in Florida.