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India’s filthy air is cutting 660 million lives short by three years, research claims

22 February, 2015

Filthy air reducing lifespan by more than three years for hundreds of millions of citizens – and it’s likely to get worse, study reveals

India’s filthy air is cutting 660 million lives short by about three years – while nearly all of the country’s 1.2 billion citizens are breathing in harmful levels of pollution, new research reveals.

The study, by a team of environmental economists at US universities, highlights just how extensive India’s air problems have become after years of pursuing an all-growth agenda with little regard for the environment.

While New Delhi last year earned the dubious title of being the world’s most polluted city, the problem extends nationwide, with 13 Indian cities now on the World Health Organisation’s list of the 20 most polluted.

That pollution burden is estimated to be costing more than half the population at least 3.2 years of their lives, according to the study led by Michael Greenstone of the University of Chicago and involving economists from Harvard and Yale universities.

The most polluted regions, falling generally in northern India, are also among India’s most populous.

“The extent of the problem is actually much larger than what we normally understand,” said Anant Sudarshan, the India director of the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago and one of the study’s co-authors.

“We think of it as an urban problem, but the rural dimension has been ignored.”

Added up, those lost years come to a staggering 2.1 billion for the entire nation.

Greenstone said that while “the conventional definition of growth has ignored the health consequences of air pollution … this study demonstrates that air pollution retards growth by causing people to die prematurely.”

For the study, published in Economic & Political Weekly, the authors borrowed from their previous work in China, where they determined life expectancy dropped by three years for every 100 migrograms of fine particulate matter, called PM2.5, above safe levels.

PM2.5 is of especially great health concern because, with the particles having diameters no greater than 2.5 micrometres, they are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs.

The authors note, however, that their estimations may be too conservative because they’re based in part on 2012 satellite data that tend to underestimate PM2.5 levels.

India has a sparse system for monitoring air quality, with sensors installed in only a few cities and almost unheard of in the countryside.

Yet rural air pollution remains high courtesy of industrial plants, poor fuel standards, extensive garbage burning and a heavy reliance on diesel for electricity generation in areas not connected with the grid.

Wind patterns also push the pollution on to the plains below the Himalayan mountain range.

India sets permissible PM2.5 levels at 40 micrograms per cubic metre – twice the WHO’s safe level. Still, the study says, 99.5 per cent of the population is living with air pollution levels above the WHO’s limit.

While India has pledged to grow its clean energy sector, with huge boosts for solar and wind power, it has also committed to tripling its coal-fired electricity capacity to 450 gigawatts by 2030.

Yet there are still no regulations for pollutants like sulfur dioxide or mercury emissions, while fuel standards remain far below Western norms and existing regulations are often ignored.

To meet its goal for coal-fired electricity, the Power Ministry says the country will double coal production to a billion tonnes within five years, after already approving dozens of new coal plants which experts say will double sulphur dioxide levels.

States: EPA climate regs illegally left out data

Timothy Cama – 08/25/14

The attorneys general from 13 states told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that its proposed rule in June to reduce carbon pollution from power plants broke the law by omitting supporting information.

Led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the officials wrote in a Monday letter that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to include a wide range of data when it proposes certain regulations. That includes the data upon which the rules are based, as well as the methodology and legal interpretations the EPA used.

“These docketing requirements are nondiscretionary,” wrote the attorneys, who represent major coal states including Wyoming, Indiana and Montana. “Finalizing a rule without providing parties with the technical information necessary for meaningful comment renders the final rule unlawful.”

The attorneys go on to say that the climate rule, which was published in two pieces for different kinds of power plants, “repeatedly violated” the data provisions. The agency excluded information from the EPA’s modeling, heat rate data from coal power plants and any technical information to support its rules for modified power plants.

“This is another blatant example of this agency’s disregard for the rule of law,” Morrisey said in a statement. “It is abundantly clear that EPA and the Obama administration will not allow anything to get in the way of enacting these illegal, burdensome regulations on coal-fired power plants.”

The attorneys general asked that the EPA immediately to withdraw the rule and, if the agency wants to go forward it, propose it again with the correct data.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said she is confident that the rule is on solid legal ground. She cited the numerous recent federal court decisions that have upheld EPA air regulations.

Most of the attorneys in the Monday letter are also participating in a lawsuit filed earlier this month that says the EPA overstepped its authority in writing the climate rule.

Xinhua: China’s most-polluted province faces enormous challenge

edited by Shen Qing, for Xinhua news:

Hebei, a northern region with the worst air in China, faces an enormous challenge in cleaning up its dirty air as data showed that little more than one third of all days last year met quality standards.

The air quality index (AQI) in 129 days, 35.3 percent of days in 2013, was below 100, Chen Guoying, director of the Hebei provincial bureau of environmental protection, told a local legislature on Wednesday.

The province, which surrounds the national capital Beijing, had 80 days, or 21.9 percent, of severe air pollution (AQI readings higher than 200), Chen said.

According to statistics published monthly by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Hebei is home to up to seven of the country’s top 10 polluted cities.

“Heavy smog hit at the time of the “two sessions” in 2013 and again this year,” said Liu Ronghua, a local political advisor, at a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the provincial people’s political consultative conference.

The “two sessions” refer to the annual meetings of the local legislature and political consultative conference.

“Smog has triggered a survival crisis and people are wondering where is suitable to live. Some are fleeing big cities to avoid the toxic air,” Liu said.

Hebei’s economy is dominated by highly polluting and energy guzzling heavy industries, which contributed to up to 77 percent of all emissions into the air, according to Chen.

The three sectors of steel, petrochemicals and construction materials account for half of its industrial output. Hebei churned out 180.5 million tonnes of steel last year, the largest among all provincial-level regions, Chen said.

To tackle the severe air pollution, the provincial government has banned approvals of new steel, cement, glass and nonferrous metal plants.

Meanwhile, it has pledged to cut its annual steel and cement production capacities by 60 million tonnes respectively by 2017 and to reduce its annual coal consumption by 40 million tonnes from 2012 levels under the same time frame.

To meet the targets, authorities will encourage mergers and acquisitions and order closures or use pricing reforms to prompt outdated facilities to shut down.

Hebei has entered a period of painful economic transition and the government will focus more on environmental protection and greener growth rather than on pure gross domestic product expansion, said Zhang Qingwei, governor of Hebei.

The central government is becoming more serious in tackling pollution as the choking air has become the target of growing discontent among urban residents.

In September, the State Council, or the Cabinet, signed air pollution control initiatives with six provinces and municipalities in north China, including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Shandong, in a coordinated effort to tackle severe air pollution.

8 Jan 2014

China to reduce coal usage for power generation to battle smog and related health issues; could spell end for viable coal production

On the back of the smog that hit Northeastern China last month, the SCMP ran an editorial on serious health concerns seeping throughout China:

The prevalence of smoking in China tends to fudge the contribution of air pollution to the growing incidence of respiratory disease. A couple of examples that emerged this month are timely reminders of the cost of China’s rapid development. In one, an eight-year-old girl has become the nation’s youngest lung-cancer patient, with doctors linking her illness to environmental factors. Dr Feng Dongjie of the Jiangsu cancer hospital says the girl lived on a busy road where she inhaled dust, including superfine particles considered to be the most lethal component of smog.

The other example recalled the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, except in this instance it was the lack of a picture. The smog that hung over many Chinese cities, including Beijing, last month was so bad in the northeastern city of Harbin , where visibility fell to below three metres, that even public security surveillance cameras could not penetrate thick layers of particles. The immediate concern for the authorities is safeguarding national security though a street surveillance network. They should also be deeply worried about the effects of smog on the public’s health as they are insidious and, if and when the air clears, will linger much longer.

The 'lack of a picture' tells a thousand words: buildings are seen through thick haze in downtown Shanghai. (SCMP/Reuters)


SCMP Letters: Officials stick with outdated technology

Frank Lee, Mid-Levels

Mary Melville is spot on with her comments on food waste and her invitation to the secretary for the environment (“Environment-friendly fix makes molehill of food waste mountain [1]”, October 12).

Besides the possibility of using special bacteria to convert biosolids sludge into agricultural fertiliser, there is a similar biological system (operational in California) that converts such waste into bio- plastics. It is reported that these biodegradable materials offer a realistic alternative to plastics derived from oil – seemingly a double whammy for environmentalists.

Many lucid letters have questioned the Environmental Protection Department’s plan for a massive incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau and its brusque brush-off of Green Island Cement’s efforts to use municipal solid waste (MSW) in an Eco-co-combustion facility proposed at its Tap Shek Kok cement plant.

Elvis W. K. Au, assistant director of environmental protection, poured cold water on this proposal because “this technology has not been used for MSW treatment anywhere in the world for large tonnages” (“Cement plan not yet viable refuse solution”, August 16).

I was therefore astounded to read the report (“Saving a packet”, October 2) about a firm that has been highly successful in using this technology on a large scale in Switzerland for some time and will incorporate the technology into its Asian cement kilns in India and Vietnam.

It seems that our Environmental Protection Department is getting well behind the curve. Cement kilns operate at 1,450 degrees Celsius and gasification plants burn at over 1,500 degrees, whereas the outdated incinerator planned for Shek Kwu Chau will only reach 850 degrees.

This has a large bearing on emissions and residue.

I also cannot understand why we are not planning to use already proven plasma gasification technology to generate electricity from MSW, in conjunction with Hongkong Electric and CLP Power. This would render the Shek Kwu Chau plans superfluous.

It appears our civil servants are bureaucratically locked into a plan that will not give Hong Kong the most effective, efficient, or environmentally sound outcome, and therefore the Legislative Council was correct to block the department’s funding request. By Mr Au’s own admission, the department has blocked Green Island Cement’s use of MSW since 2000, while all this time our landfills inexorably extend.

Perhaps when environment secretary Wong Kam-sing replies to Mary Melville, he can also clarify the confusion surrounding the Shek Kwu Chau project.

24 Oct 2013

A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong

Download (PDF, 3.05MB)

Chinese to launch first ever green lawsuit against government

‘Breakthrough’ hailed as Chinese judge says residents may prosecute government over pollution claims

Benxi steel mills blowing smoke over residential buildings.

China should see its first lawsuit by an environmental group against authorities within weeks, state media reported today.

A member of the All-China Environmental Federation – which is backed by the central government – said a judge in Guizhou province had accepted its claim on behalf of residents who complain they have suffered from pollution.

Residents allege that the Qingzhen land resources bureau leased land to a drinks factory in 1994, but construction of the factory has not been completed and they believe the site is damaging two adjacent lakes from which they draw drinking water. They want the government to take back the land and remove construction materials.

Ma Yong, director of the legal service centre at the federation, told the Associated Press the case would open in early September.

“The case will serve as a warning for government departments and companies that damage the environment, as we’re stepping up efforts to play a supervisory role,” Ma Yong said. He added that he hoped it would pave the way for other organisations to file public-interest lawsuits.

Liu Haiying, deputy head of the environmental protection tribunal at Qingzhen municipal people’s court, told China Daily: “We are established to safeguard public interest and hope to encourage other courts to step forward to handle similar cases.”

She added: “No matter what the conclusion is, we hope it will serve as a warning to government departments such as environment, forestry and other agencies, that they should always fulfill their duty to protect the environment.

“They need to gradually realise that they are not only under the supervision of the party and other administrative departments, but also under the watch of all citizens.”

Environmental activists complain that courts usually turn away such cases.

“If this leads to more non-governmental organisations bringing public interest litigation I think this is a very important breakthrough. It means China is going to open the door to more public involvement in environmental enforcement,” said Alex Wang, a senior lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a US environmental group.

In a separate development, China is to shift a planned £3bn oil refinery and petrochemical plant in the south after years of public outcry.

Wang Yang, the Communist Party chief of Guangdong, said the province would move the plant – a joint venture between China’s Sinopec and the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation – because of opposition from the community and officials.

“We only have one planet to live on, so whatever we do on this end will affect others on the other end,” Wang told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.

“The decision by the government shows that they do consider the opinions from different stakeholders across the region, which is a positive sign,” said Edward Chan, a Greenpeace campaign manager based in Hong Kong.

“Our worries now are that the residents [in the new area] are not as well-educated or informed, or may be more eager to look for economic development.

“The story has not ended. It’s really important for green groups to pay attention to where the project is moving to.”

It is thought the factory will be relocated away from Nansha to Zhanjiang in western Guangdong, a less ecologically sensitive area.

Business groups back air quality plan, despite activists’ criticism

Cheung Chi-fai and Paggie Leung, SCMP

Two major business groups have thrown their weight behind the air quality improvement plan unveiled by the government two days ago, despite reservations voiced by a clean air advocacy group.

Teresa Au, deputy chairwoman of the General Chamber of Commerce environment and sustainability committee, said it was worth paying for better air, which was vital to the city’s competitiveness and attractiveness to overseas talent.

“There is always a price for better environment and long-term benefits will require some short-term investments,” she said.

Suen Kai-lit, the new chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, also backed the plan, saying: “We support the government putting in more effort to improve the environment, even if it needs to use taxpayers’ money.”

But the Clean Air Network, a newly formed advocacy group on air quality, said even if the new targets were met, it would not be enough to prevent harm from bad air.

A consultation paper has proposed a set of air quality objectives and 19 control measures to attain them. It offered no timetable but said the measures had the potential to increase the average life expectancy of city dwellers by a month.

Ms Au said the lack of a timetable would give officials room to negotiate with power firms and bus operators who would be asked to use cleaner fuel and phase out polluting vehicles.

She said the chamber would submit a detailed response later.

Mr Suen said that if power stations had to use cleaner raw materials to improve air quality, consumers would be prepared to pay more for electricity.

But the Clean Air Network said if the measures were implemented, there would still be at least 950 premature deaths a year, compared with about 1,100 based on emissions figures for 2007.

The estimates were projected from the Hedley Index, developed by local scientists, which tracks the health and economic costs of pollution.

Lai Hak-kan of the University of Hong Kong’s department of community medicine said new sulphur dioxide targets could be worse than the existing ones as they allowed more exemptions.

“We are surrounded by ports in the region and many ocean-going vessels are using dirty fuel loaded with sulphur. But we do not see the government taking it seriously,” he said.

Meanwhile, Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah told RTHK that the consultation was “not all about expenses”.

“The energy-efficiency measures can give savings to consumers and rationalising bus routes costs almost nothing and saves running costs.”

Green Island Cries Foul Over Eco-report Clause

STAFF REPORTER of HK Standard – May 25, 2009

Green Island Cement (Holdings) has described as “irresponsible” and “illogical” the government’s move to slap a HK$20 million environment assessment report requirement before allowing it to bid for a sludge management project.

Green Island – a subsidiary of Cheung Kong Infrastructure – said it was given the requirement at a meeting with the Environmental Protection Department.

“It is impossible for Green Island Cement to spend HK$20 million to conduct an environmental assessment when it remains uncertain if it is eligible to bid for the project,” a company statement issued yesterday said.

The firm said it is baffled by the government policy of not considering the company’s eco co-combustion system, which cost only HK$3 billion – one-third of the government’s budget of HK$9 billion – to build the sludge treatment and integrated waste facilities at Tap Shek Kok, Tuen Mun.

Last Thursday, Legislative Council public works subcommittee chairman Raymond Ho Chung-tai slammed the government’s inability to accept the latest technology introduced by Green Island Cement.

In its letter to the department last August, the company said the proposed eco co-combustion system has substantial benefits in reducing coal use and recycling all bottom and fly ash to make cement.

Air Pollution Endangers Lives of Six in 10 Americans

WASHINGTON, DC, April 29, 2009 (ENS)

Six out of every 10 Americans – 186.1 million people – live in areas where air pollution endangers lives, according to the 10th annual American Lung Association State of the Air report released today.

Some of the biggest sources of air pollution – dirty power plants, dirty diesel engines and ocean-going vessels – also worsen global warming, the Lung Association says in State of the Air 2009.

As America deals with the linked challenges of air pollution, global warming and energy, the Lung Association urges Congress, the U.S. EPA and individuals to choose solutions that help solve all three challenges together.

Nearly every major American city is still burdened by air pollution, and the air in many cities became dirtier since last year, the report finds, despite “substantial progress” made against air pollution in many areas of the country and more attention paid to the environment by America’s growing green movement.

“This should be a wakeup call. We know that air pollution is a major threat to human health,” said Stephen Nolan, American Lung Association National Board Chair. “When 60 percent of Americans are left breathing air dirty enough to send people to the emergency room, to shape how kids’ lungs develop, and to kill, air pollution remains a serious problem.”

State of the Air 2009 includes a national air quality report card that assigns A-F grades to communities across the country and details trends for 900 counties over the past decade.

The report ranks cities and counties most affected by the three most widespread types of pollution – ozone, or smog; annual particle pollution; and 24-hour particle pollution levels.

The report finds that air pollution hovers at unhealthy levels in almost every major city, threatening people’s ability to breathe and placing lives at risk.

“The more we learn, the more urgent it becomes for us to take decisive action to make our air healthier,” said Nolan.

Many cities, like Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Baltimore have made improvements in their air quality over the past decade.

Only one city, Fargo, North Dakota, ranked among the cleanest in all three air pollution categories.

Seventeen cities appeared on two of the three lists of cleanest cities: Billings, Montana; Bismarck and Sioux Falls, North Dakota; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins, and Pueblo, Colorado; Farmington and Santa Fe-Espanola, New Mexico; Honolulu, Hawaii; Lincoln, Nebraska; Midland-Odessa, Texas; Port St. Lucie, Florida; Redding, Salinas, and San Luis Obispo, California; and Tucson, Arizona.

The three cities most polluted by ozone are all in California – the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside metropolitan area; Bakersfield, a center of agriculture, petroleum extraction and refining, and manufacturing in the San Joaquin Valley; and Visalia-Porterville, a San Joaquin Valley agricultural community.

Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pennsylvania tops the list of cities most polluted by 24 hour fine particle pollution, while the three California cities that top the most polluted ozone list are close behind in this category and also for year-round particle pollution.


In March 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted a new, tighter standard for ozone pollution. The new standard showed that unhealthy ozone levels are more widespread and more severe than previously recognized.

Evaluating the most recent data against the new standard, the American Lung Association found that approximately 175.4 million Americans – 58 percent – live in counties where ozone monitors recorded too many days with unhealthy ozone levels, far more than the 92.5 million identified in the State of the Air 2008 report.

Sixteen cities making this year’s 25 most ozone-polluted list experienced worse smog problems than last year.

The Lung Association’s review found consistent improvements in ozone in some cities, such as Los Angeles, with its long-standing ozone problem.

But two cities, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Las Vegas, have higher ozone levels than 10 years ago.

Ozone is the most widespread form of air pollution. When inhaled, ozone irritates the lungs, resulting in something like a bad sunburn. The health effects of breathing ozone pollution can be immediate. Ozone can cause wheezing, coughing and asthma attacks. Breathing ozone pollution can even shorten lives.

“More than 175 million Americans live in areas with unhealthy smog levels – that’s 80 million more than we identified in last year’s report,” said Charles Connor, American Lung Association president and chief executive. “We at the American Lung Association believe that the new ozone standard is not yet strong enough to protect human health – an opinion nearly all scientific experts share.”

In March 2008, the EPA adopted a standard of .075 parts per million, ppm, after legal action by the American Lung Association forced the agency to complete a formal review. This standard is not as strict as the standard of .060 ppm recommended by the Lung Association.

The association, along with states, public health and environmental groups, has taken the EPA back to court in an attempt to force the agency to adopt the .060 ppm standard before its scheduled five-year review in 2013.

Particle Pollution

State of the Air 2009 grades counties for both 24-hour and year-round levels of particle pollution – a toxic mix of microscopic soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols.

“It is the most dangerous and deadly of the outdoor air pollutants that are widespread in America,” the Lung Association says in its report, warning that “breathing in particle pollution can increase the risk of early death, heart attacks, strokes and emergency room visits for asthma and cardiovascular disease.”

One in six people in the United States lives in an area with unhealthy year-round levels of fine particle pollution (termed annual average levels).

Nine cities in the list of the 25 most polluted by year-round particle pollution showed measurable improvement, including five cities that reported their best year-round levels since the Lung Association began tracking this pollutant: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Atlanta, York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The annual average level of particle pollution worsened in a dozen cities, including Bakersfield and Los Angeles, California and Houston, Texas.

Roughly three in 10 Americans live in counties with unhealthful spikes of particle pollution which can last from hours to days (termed 24-hour levels).

Thirteen cities had more days, or more severe days, of spikes than in last year’s report. Eleven cities have improved continually since the 2007 report.

New data show that women in their 50’s may be particularly threatened by air pollution and that diesel truck drivers and dockworkers who are forced to breathe exhaust on the job may face a greater risk of developing lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

California researchers have tripled their estimate of the number of people that particle pollution kills each year in their state.

“The science is rock-solid. We now know that air pollution can impair the lung function of even the healthiest people,” said Norman Edelman, MD, American Lung Association chief medical officer. “Air pollution worsens asthma and is a direct cause of heart attacks, which makes people living with lung and heart disease especially vulnerable.”

Dr. Edelman suggests that people living in areas of high particle pollution “must recognize that this is the fact of their lives, and they must be more careful about other life factors – stop smoking, eat well, exercise.”

In addition, Dr. Edelman suggests, people who live with particle pollution “must take action help us and other organizations to change the EPA regulations. It’s personal, it’s affecting them and their neighbors.” In addition, he said, they can take local political action to change regulations such as engine idling, and clean up diesel-powered school buses.

Low income people and some racial and ethnic groups often face greater risk from pollutants. Pollution sources like factories and power plants may be closer to their homes, the Lung Association points out. Many live near areas with heavy highway traffic or have poor access to health care, which makes them even more vulnerable. Some racial and ethnic groups have a higher prevalence of diseases like asthma or diabetes, which compounds the ill effects of air pollution for these groups.

“We need to renew our commitment to providing healthy air for all our citizens – a commitment the United States made almost 40 years ago when Congress passed the Clean Air Act,” Connor said. “After four decades, we still have much work to do.”

“America needs to cut emissions from big polluters like coal-fired power plants and ocean-going vessels,” Connor said. “We need to fix old dirty diesel engines to make them cleaner and strengthen the ozone standards to better protect our health. We also need to improve the decaying infrastructure of air monitors. America must now enforce the laws that help us improve our nation’s air quality.”


Cleanest U.S. Cities for Ozone Air Pollution *Cities below had equal scores.

  • Billings, Montana
  • Carson City, Nevada
  • Coeur D’Alene, Idaho
  • Fargo-Wahpeton, North Dakota-Minnesota
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Laredo, Texas
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Port St. Lucie-Sebastian-Vero Beach, Florida
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Cleanest U.S. Cities for Short-term Particle Pollution (24 Hour PM2.5) *Cities below had equal scores.

  • Alexandria, Louisiana
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Austin-Round Rock, Texas
  • Bismarck, North Dakota
  • Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, Texas
  • Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Corpus Christi-Kingsville, Texas
  • Fargo-Wahpeton, North Dakota-Minnesota
  • Farmington, New Mexico
  • Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Longview-Marshall, Texas
  • Midland-Odessa, Texas
  • Oklahoma City-Shawnee, Oklahoma
  • Portland-Lewiston-South Portland, Maine
  • Pueblo, Colorado
  • Redding, California
  • Salinas, California
  • San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, California
  • Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, California
  • Santa Fe-Espanola, New Mexico
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Tucson, Arizona

10 Cleanest U.S. Cities for Long-term Particle Pollution (Annual PM2.5)

  • Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Santa Fe-Espanola, New Mexico
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Great Falls, Montana (tied for 4th)
  • Flagstaff, Arizona (tied for 4th)
  • Farmington, New Mexico (tied for 6th)
  • Anchorage, Alaska (tied for 6th)
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Bismarck, North Dakota (tied for 9th)
  • Salinas, California (tied for 9th)

10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Ozone

  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, California
  • Bakersfield, California
  • Visalia-Porterville, California
  • Fresno-Madera, California
  • Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, Texas
  • Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, California-Nevada
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, N.C.-S.C.
  • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona
  • El Centro, California

10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-term Particle Pollution (24 Hour PM2.5)

  • Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pennsylvania
  • Fresno-Madera, California
  • Bakersfield, California
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, California
  • Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, Alabama
  • Salt Lake City-Ogden-Clearfield, Utah
  • Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, California-Nevada
  • Logan, Utah
  • Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City, Illinois-Indiana-Wisconsin (tied for 9th)
  • Detroit-Warren-Flint, Michigan (tied for 9th)

10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution (Annual PM2.5)

  • Bakersfield, California
  • Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pennsylvania
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, California
  • Visalia-Porterville, California
  • Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, Alabama
  • Hanford-Corcoran, California
  • Fresno-Madera, California
  • Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana
  • Detroit-Warren-Flint, Michigan
  • Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, Ohio

Visit to search local air quality grades by zip code.