Special Report

America's Most Polluted Housing Markets

7. Salt Lake County, Utah
> Score: 22.8
> Pct. of days with bad air: 11.87% (21st highest)
> Hazards per sq. mile: 0.53 (54th highest)
> Median home price: $59,329 (160th highest)

The air quality in Salt Lake County is considered hazardous during nearly 12% of the year, one of the worst ratings nationwide. The region’s air pollution problem is recognized by the county’s health department, and local officials have identified motor vehicles — responsible for roughly half of the particulate pollution — as a major culprit. As a result, the registration of vehicles less than six-years old in the Salt Lake Valley includes an annual emissions test. Salt Lake County residents are relatively well-off. Less than 4% of the area’s workforce was unemployed as of June, and a typical household earns an estimated $59,329 annually. Both figures were exceptionally good compared to other markets reviewed.

6. Philadelphia County, Pa.
> Score: 24.0
> Pct. of days with bad air: 1.39% (148th lowest)
> Hazards per sq. mile: 3.95 (2nd highest)
> Median home price: $35,593 (14th lowest)

While Philadelphia County has some of the worst levels of man-made pollution among all markets reviewed, the area has made considerable progress. For example, Metal Bank, a superfund site located on the Delaware river, was completely cleaned up in 2010. And the percentage of bad air days was far lower than the national average, at just 1.4% since 2008. However, local officials may still have their work cut out for them. Brownfield sites — sites that contain contaminants which potentially hinder their redevelopment — were more prevalent in Philadelphia than in all but one other county reviewed by RealtyTrac.

ALSO READ: America’s Richest (and Poorest) States

5. Denver County, Colo.
> Score: 27.4
> Pct. of days with bad air: 10.58% (35th highest)
> Hazards per sq. mile: 1.58 (12th highest)
> Median home price: $50,900 (283rd lowest)

Denver County ranked high across most measures considered by Homefacts. More than 10.5% of days in the area were counted as bad air quality days, higher than in most counties. Both brownfields and designated polluters were also quite high per square mile. Denver County also had 0.22 former illegal drug labs per square mile, higher than in most counties. Illegal drug labs pose a serious environmental risk to nearby residents because they create hazardous waste and can result in explosions. However, homebuyers may not be that concerned with environmental issues. The median home price in Denver County was $295,000 in July, higher than in most large counties, and up a fairly healthy 6.1% from the year before.

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