Patt Morrison for April 25, 2012

American Lung Association ranks the 10 most polluted cities in the U.S., and the top 5 are in California (LA is #3)

#1. Bakersfield, California. A view of the Bakersfield skyline at night. Bakersfield had the worst air pollution, according to the American Lung Association.

#2. Hanford, California. The city of Hanford, California had the second worst air pollution, according to the American Lung Association.

A view of downtown Los Angeles,Californi

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

#3. Los Angeles, California. A view of downtown Los Angeles, California is seen on a smoggy afternoon, 02 November 2006. Due to the city's geography making it susceptible to atmospheric inversion as well as the heavy reliance on automobiles as a major source of transportation, the city suffers from air pollution in the form of smog.

#4. Vasalia, California. The city of Vasalia, California had the fourth worst air quality in the nation, according to the American Lung Association.

purpletwinkie/flickr

#5. Fresno, California. View of downtown Fresno, California. Fresno had the fifth worst air quality in the nation, according to the American Lung Association.


If someone asked you to guess which city in the United States has the highest level of year-round particle pollution you probably wouldn’t guess Bakersfield, California, but it does, according to the American Lung Association.

In fact, California cities occupy the five worst rankings on the organization’s list. Bakersfield’s location between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the California coastal ranges makes it a virtual smog trap that catches pollution drifting down from nearby cities such as Fresno, which happens to be fifth on the list. The region’s dry weather also makes matters there even worse.

Los Angeles is ranked third worst for particle pollution, but is also listed as the most ozone-polluted city, attributed mainly to road pollution and its ports, which receive 43 percent of all U.S. imports. Outside of California, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the next most particle polluted metropolis.

WEIGH IN:

What will it take to get California to clean up its air?

Guests:

Bonnie Holmes-Gen, executive director, Air Quality and Health, American Lung Association in California

Herb Benham, feature columnist, Bakersfield Californian

Sam Atwood, spokesman, South Coast Air Quality Management District


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