Air quality in the United States has increased dramatically over last few decades. While the United States remains a top manufacturing country, scientific advances have created methods of producing energy, raw materials and finished products that pollute the air less than ever before. Improvements are found throughout the nation, but discrepancies between locations remain. Here are the five worst cities for air pollution.
Located in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley, the Hanford metropolitan area is home to around 150,000 people. Extensive agricultural practices ensure that the region consumes far more energy that its population requires as food and cotton production are high-energy ventures. Its long history as an oil producer further increases pollution.
Phoenix is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. In 2000, the population was slightly higher than three million; today, it is home to well over four million. While the increasing populations’ demand for energy and construction have been factors in its poor air pollution ratings, the topology of Phoenix and its hot weather are also to blame as pollution tends to naturally settle around Phoenix and its surrounded metropolitan regions.
Also located in the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno is the fifth-largest city in California with over one million people in its metropolitan zone. Despite its relatively urban nature, Fresno remains an important agricultural region for the country and much of the world. Even though California’s “Wine Country” is located well to the north, Fresno and its neighbors produce over sixty percent of the grapes grown in the state.
Air quality for the more than two million residents of the Pittsburgh metropolitan region has improved dramatically in recent decades. But while significant progress has been made, it still boasts some of the worst air quality scores in the nation. Though its reputation as “SteelTown, USA” has faded, Pittsburgh still produces much of the nation’s steel. It is also located in a region that mines much of the nation’s coal, and its proximity to West Virginia ensures a steady supply of mining-related air pollution.
Los Angeles is at the heart of the second largest metropolitan area of the country with over seventeen million residents and boasts some of the worst scores in all metrics. Shaped much like a bowl, the region captures pollution from its construction, energy production, traffic and shipping industry. It is a perfect storm for poor air quality. While Los Angeles features some of the best weather in the nation, outdoor activity becomes difficult for those with breathing problems.
Peter Wendt is a writer from Austin, TX. He’s very passionate about air quality and coping with asthma. If you’re moving to any of these cities, he recommends you research air purifiers.
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