Special Report

Companies Polluting Our Air the Most

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Since the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970, the quality of the air we breathe has improved dramatically, and cleaner air has meant better health for most Americans. The Clean Air Act requires permits for the release of pollution into the air and has strict requirements for the removal of pollutants before they can escape from smokestacks, tailpipes, vents, and other sources. 

Even so, four out of 10 Americans still live in counties with unhealthy air, and between 100,000 and 200,000 people die from illnesses caused by air pollution every year. (These are 23 places where industrial air pollution is so bad it causes cancer.)

Of particular concern are hazardous air pollutants – the Environmental Protection Agency regulates about 200 of them – that mainly come from burning coal or gas, or from industrial incineration. Regulation also allows for monitoring, allowing for the tracking and planned reduction of these pollutants, and also for informing the public. 

To identify the 100 companies polluting our air, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Political Economy Research Institute’s report, Toxic 100 Air Polluters Index (2021 Report, Based on 2019 Data). The report ranks companies by their toxic score – the estimated human health risk from air releases and incineration transfers in 2019 based on quantity released, toxicity of chemicals, and population exposure in 2019, using EPA’s Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators. 

The quantity of toxic air releases and incineration transfers is in millions of pounds of toxic chemicals released in 2019. The report’s environmental justice measures include the percentage of the population living under twice the poverty line and the share of the population from minority racial/ethnic groups that are at risk for exposure to air pollution from these emitters. 

The PERI data illustrates the fact that minorities are more likely to suffer from bad air – and other environmental insults – than non-minority people. According to the American Lung Association, people of color are one and a half times more likely to be breathing poor quality air – usually measured in terms of ground level ozone and fine particulates – than white people. According to the PERI report on toxic air emissions, of the 50 companies with the most dangerous emissions, 36 have minority populations exceeding 37% – the average for the country. (These are the most polluted cities in the world.)

The amount of air pollution will likely be reduced dramatically in the future as the world addresses the reality of climate change by shifting from fossil fuels to cleaner means of producing energy.

Click here to see the company polluting our air the most

Source: nd3000 / iStock via Getty Images

50. Carpenter Technology
> Toxic score 727,772
> Toxic air released: 0.04 million pounds – #78 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 17% – #41 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 40% – #61 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 79% – #45 highest

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Source: Piotr Wytrazek / iStock via Getty Images

49. Emerson Electric
> Toxic score 729,205
> Toxic air released: 0.01 million pounds – #90 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 18% – #33 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 41% – #58 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 69% – #57 highest

Source: dennism2 / Flickr

48. Akzo Nobel
> Toxic score 739,414
> Toxic air released: 0.09 million pounds – #70 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 19% – #26 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 66% – #19 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 99% – #18 highest

47. Solvay
> Toxic score 765,976
> Toxic air released: 0.82 million pounds – #31 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 15% – #65 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 58% – #29 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 38% – #86 highest

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

46. General Dynamics
> Toxic score 779,711
> Toxic air released: 0.22 million pounds – #56 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 16% – #49 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 66% – #19 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 90% – #32 highest

Source: JHVEPhoto / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

45. Cleveland-Cliffs
> Toxic score 828,444
> Toxic air released: 1.39 million pounds – #24 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 25% – #6 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 47% – #44 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 20% – #99 highest

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Source: justhavealook / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

44. Evonik Industries
> Toxic score 833,926
> Toxic air released: 0.57 million pounds – #39 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 18% – #33 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 40% – #61 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 45% – #77 highest

Source: usepagov / Flickr

43. Tenneco
> Toxic score 891,180
> Toxic air released: 0.11 million pounds – #66 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 16% – #49 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 31% – #78 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 38% – #86 highest

Source: JHVEPhoto / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

42. Parker-Hannifin
> Toxic score 904,778
> Toxic air released: 0.33 million pounds – #48 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 16% – #49 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 21% – #91 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 83% – #41 highest

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41. Freeport-McMoRan
> Toxic score 989,241
> Toxic air released: 4.45 million pounds – #12 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 22% – #13 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 61% – #24 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 96% – #26 highest

Source: Sundry Photography / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

40. Valero Energy
> Toxic score 1,081,893
> Toxic air released: 4.51 million pounds – #11 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 18% – #33 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 64% – #21 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 32% – #92 highest

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Source: jewhyte / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

39. Chevron
> Toxic score 1,084,686
> Toxic air released: 2.69 million pounds – #15 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 16% – #49 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 68% – #17 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 46% – #75 highest

38. Kingspan plc
> Toxic score 1,106,209
> Toxic air released: 0.04 million pounds – #78 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 10% – #94 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 16% – #94 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 100% – #1 highest

Source: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

37. Koch Industries
> Toxic score 1,134,098
> Toxic air released: 28.02 million pounds – #2 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 18% – #33 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 50% – #39 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 33% – #91 highest

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Source: JHVEPhoto / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

36. Lockheed Martin
> Toxic score 1,163,147
> Toxic air released: 0.02 million pounds – #87 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 22% – #13 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 77% – #6 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 100% – #1 highest

Source: schulzhattingen / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

35. Air Products & Chemicals
> Toxic score 1,275,573
> Toxic air released: 0.26 million pounds – #52 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 13% – #79 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 38% – #65 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 100% – #1 highest

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Source: StockPhotoAstur / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

34. Phillips 66
> Toxic score 1,291,471
> Toxic air released: 4.60 million pounds – #9 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 16% – #49 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 60% – #26 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 30% – #93 highest

Source: Sushiman / iStock via Getty Images

33. Occidental Petroleum
> Toxic score 1,369,928
> Toxic air released: 0.59 million pounds – #37 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 18% – #33 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 70% – #11 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 40% – #84 highest

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

32. Ametek
> Toxic score 1,382,868
> Toxic air released: 0.19 million pounds – #60 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 11% – #89 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 37% – #69 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 95% – #27 highest

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Source: JHVEPhoto / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

31. Becton Dickinson
> Toxic score 1,421,105
> Toxic air released: 0.17 million pounds – #61 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 16% – #49 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 53% – #36 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 57% – #64 highest

Source: Simon Roughneen / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

30. Baxter International
> Toxic score 1,501,401
> Toxic air released: 0.03 million pounds – #83 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 12% – #86 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 6% – #100 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 100% – #1 highest

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Source: Phynart Studio / iStock via Getty Images

29. Kennametal
> Toxic score 1,563,228
> Toxic air released: 1.34 million pounds – #26 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 13% – #79 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 28% – #82 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 63% – #60 highest

Source: Wolterk / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

28. Marathon Petroleum
> Toxic score 1,649,704
> Toxic air released: 4.52 million pounds – #10 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 16% – #49 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 52% – #37 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 35% – #90 highest

Source: RUBEN RAMOS / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

27. Mitsui
> Toxic score 1,674,870
> Toxic air released: 0.09 million pounds – #70 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 26% – #4 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 69% – #15 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 100% – #1 highest

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Source: zodebala / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

26. Exxon Mobil
> Toxic score 1,758,433
> Toxic air released: 8.16 million pounds – #3 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 21% – #22 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 70% – #11 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 29% – #94 highest

Source: artiemedvedev / Getty Images

25. TMS International
> Toxic score 1,782,250
> Toxic air released: 0.03 million pounds – #83 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 28% – #3 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 69% – #15 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 84% – #39 highest

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24. Albemarle
> Toxic score 1,793,564
> Toxic air released: 0.49 million pounds – #44 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 18% – #33 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 73% – #9 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 79% – #45 highest

Source: megaflopp / iStock via Getty Images

23. Ashland Global Holdings
> Toxic score 1,855,777
> Toxic air released: 1.53 million pounds – #22 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 22% – #13 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 56% – #31 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 71% – #52 highest

Source: Sundry Photography / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

22. Tesla Inc.
> Toxic score 1,914,425
> Toxic air released: 0.31 million pounds – #49 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 11% – #89 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 38% – #65 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 100% – #1 highest

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Source: JHVEPhoto / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

21. Rio Tinto
> Toxic score 1,968,937
> Toxic air released: 0.12 million pounds – #65 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 8% – #98 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 30% – #80 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 89% – #35 highest

Source: jetcityimage / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

20. General Electric
> Toxic score 2,079,308
> Toxic air released: 0.54 million pounds – #41 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 22% – #13 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 26% – #83 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 62% – #62 highest

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Source: HJBC / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

19. Saint-Gobain
> Toxic score 2,240,652
> Toxic air released: 0.62 million pounds – #36 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 10% – #94 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 34% – #74 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 99% – #18 highest

18. Kubota
> Toxic score 2,525,918
> Toxic air released: 0.01 million pounds – #90 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 14% – #72 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 43% – #51 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 100% – #1 highest

Source: Sundry Photography / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

17. Northrop Grumman
> Toxic score 2,620,892
> Toxic air released: 0.31 million pounds – #49 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 19% – #26 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 15% – #95 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 99% – #18 highest

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Source: RiverNorthPhotography / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

16. Royal Dutch Shell
> Toxic score 2,782,459
> Toxic air released: 2.07 million pounds – #17 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 15% – #65 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 54% – #35 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 47% – #73 highest

Source: ablokhin / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

15. Berkshire Hathaway
> Toxic score 2,985,197
> Toxic air released: 2.31 million pounds – #16 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 15% – #65 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 38% – #65 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 22% – #98 highest

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

14. Howmet Aerospace
> Toxic score 3,074,691
> Toxic air released: 0.24 million pounds – #54 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 16% – #49 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 43% – #51 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 41% – #82 highest

Source: serts / E+ via Getty Images

13. O’Neal Industries
> Toxic score 3,084,376
> Toxic air released: <0.01 million pounds – #91 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 23% – #10 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 55% – #33 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 95% – #27 highest

Source: Public domain / Wikimedia Commons

12. Carlyle Group
> Toxic score 3,116,719
> Toxic air released: 0.59 million pounds – #37 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 17% – #41 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 70% – #11 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 61% – #63 highest

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia commons

11. Ecolab
> Toxic score 3,247,008
> Toxic air released: 0.06 million pounds – #73 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 16% – #49 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 79% – #4 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 97% – #25 highest

Source: neilkendall / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

10. Eastman Chemical
> Toxic score 3,440,587
> Toxic air released: 4.88 million pounds – #8 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 20% – #23 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 44% – #49 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 80% – #43 highest

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9. Baker Hughes
> Toxic score 3,747,413
> Toxic air released: 0.65 million pounds – #35 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 17% – #41 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 46% – #45 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 41% – #82 highest

Source: JHVEPhoto / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

8. Assa Abloy
> Toxic score 3,835,217
> Toxic air released: 0.10 million pounds – #69 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 12% – #86 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 42% – #55 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 98% – #24 highest

Source: kim willems / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

7. Celanese
> Toxic score 5,791,002
> Toxic air released: 0.83 million pounds – #29 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 14% – #72 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 61% – #24 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 100% – #1 highest

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. Dow Inc.
> Toxic score 6,858,422
> Toxic air released: 5.89 million pounds – #5 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 19% – #26 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 49% – #41 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 45% – #77 highest

Source: U. J. Alexander / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

5. BASF
> Toxic score 8,834,947
> Toxic air released: 5.02 million pounds – #7 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 19% – #26 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 36% – #70 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 40% – #84 highest

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Source: Lukassek / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

4. Linde
> Toxic score 9,615,218
> Toxic air released: 0.37 million pounds – #46 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 15% – #65 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 48% – #43 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 78% – #48 highest

Source: Courtesy of Huntsman Cancer Institute

3. Huntsman
> Toxic score 11,137,063
> Toxic air released: 0.69 million pounds – #33 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 14% – #72 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 45% – #48 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 54% – #66 highest

2. LyondellBasell
> Toxic score 12,599,132
> Toxic air released: 5.15 million pounds – #6 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 16% – #49 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 68% – #17 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 70% – #54 highest

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Source: sanfel / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

1. Boeing
> Toxic score 21,105,144
> Toxic air released: 0.25 million pounds – #53 highest out of 100 corporations
> Environmental justice, poor population share: 14% – #72 highest
> Environmental justice, minority population share: 36% – #70 highest
> Pct. of toxic score from a single facility: 100% – #1 highest

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