Special Report

America’s Dirtiest Cities in 2022


To identify America’s dirtiest cities, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a ranking created by LawnStarter, a lawn care start-up that conducts research into city and state amenities on a regular basis. The site ranked cities across four key categories encompassing 23 individual metrics. The categories were pollution (including water quality violations and greenhouse-gas emissions), living conditions (measuring population density, share of homes lacking kitchen or plumbing facilities, etc.), infrastructure (counting number of junk yards, tons of landfill waste, and other factors), and consumer satisfaction (share of residents who find their city dirty and untidy and share dissatisfied with pollution, garbage disposal, and available green spaces).

Researchers began with a list of the country’s 200 largest cities by population, then eliminated 113 of them from their computations because they lacked data for more than 10% of the total metrics in any one category. According to LawnStarter, “The 87 cities that remained in our sample were then scored and ranked only on the metrics for which data were available. In most cases, a city lacked data for only one out of 23 total metrics and limited to two maximum for the fairest possible comparison.” The site drew on its own previous studies and on nine other sources, including County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Numbeo, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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