The 20 Dirtiest Cities in America

The 20 Dirtiest Cities in America

At the end of 2012, Forbes.com released a list of the 20 American cities considered the dirtiest in terms of groundwater pollution levels and air quality. Economic hardships have only exacerbated the problem in many of these metropolitan areas, and high pollution levels are detrimental to the overall quality of life for residents.

For those of you who aren't aware, the Sperling rating below are based on an index where 1 is the worst and 100 is the best.

20. St.Louis, MO

Over 150 industrial sites dot the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers in this area, and chemicals are dumped into the rivers on a regular basis. The local Sperling Air Quality Index is 24, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 44.

St. Louis MO

19. Cleveland, OH

The ArcelorMittal metals plant is a large source of toxic emissions in the Cleveland area. The Sperling Air Quality Index is 29, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 35.

Cleveland OH

18. Baltimore, MD

The nearby Patapsco River and the Chesapeake Bay carry high levels of arsenic, phosphorous and other harmful chemicals from Baltimore's poultry processing plants. The Sperling Air Quality Index is 14, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 49.

Baltimore MD

17. Los Angeles, CA

The LA metro area is ranked the worst in the nation for ozone levels. The Sperling Air Quality Index is 2, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 58.

Los Angeles CA

16. Louisville, KY

Louisville is home to the Cane Run Coal Plant, which spews high levels of harmful pollutants into the air. The local Sperling Air Quality Index is 37, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 19.

Louisville KY

15. Akron, OH

The local Sperling Air Quality Index is 20, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 36. Akron is situated along the Cuyahoga River, which has caught fire in the past due to surface pollutants.

Akron OH

14. Baton Rouge, LA

Coal-burning power plants are a major source of air pollution in this city, and recent initiatives have begun for stricter emissions control regulations. The Sperling Air Quality Index is 29, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 27.

Baton Rouge Lousiana

13. Houston, TX

Houston houses the biggest number of oil refineries and chemical plants in the country, and it ranks quite high for ozone pollution. The Sperling Air Quality Index is 18, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 51.

Houston TX

12. Sacramento, CA

California's capital has high rankings for air particle pollution and ozone levels. The Sperling Air Quality Index is 9, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 48.

Sacramento California

11. New York City, NY

High levels of pollutants from oil spills, industrial development and chemical dumping plague New York City's and Northern New Jersey's groundwater supplies. The Sperling Air Quality Index is 23, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 34.

New York City NY

10. Milwaukee, WI

Industrial development and manufacturing have created high concentrations of pollutants in the Milwaukee River as well as in the air. The local Sperling Air Quality Index is 26, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is also 26.

Milwaukee, WI

9. Stockton, CA

Lack of funding for clean-up has resulted in high ozone levels in this central California city. Its Sperling Air Quality Index is 15, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 35.

Stockton CA

8. San Jose, CA

This city's silicon manufacturing has resulted in toxic chemical leaching into the groundwater over the decades. The Sperling Air Quality Index is 13, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 30.

San Jose California

7. New Haven, CT

The Sperling Air Quality Index is 6, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 44 in New Haven. The city is located close to Yale University's flight school and a major intersection of two interstate highways.

New Haven CT

6. Riverside, CA

The Riverside-San Bernardino area has a Sperling Air Quality Index of 1 and a Sperling Water Quality Index of 49. Drinking water supplies have been contaminated by the manufacture of rockets, motors and explosives.

Riverside, CA

5. Modesto, CA

This central California city ranks 11th in the nation for ozone pollution, and it also shoulders one of the country's highest unemployment rates. The Sperling Air Quality Index is 6, and the Sperling Water Quality Index is 34.

Modesto California

4. Bridgeport, CT

Connecticut is one of the wealthiest U.S. states, but local car part manufacturing has lead to contamination of the wetlands with various toxic chemicals. Found contaminants include dangerous levels of lead and asbestos. The Sperling Water Quality Index is 32, and the Sperling Air Quality Index is 8.

Bridgeport, CT

3. Philadelphia, PA

The City of Brotherly Love is situated on the banks of the Delaware River, which has been lined with operating chemical refineries for several decades. High concentrations of pollutants get released into the river water each year, and the area has a water quality index of 12 as well as an air quality index of 22.

Philadelphia, PA

2. Bakersfield, CA

Bakersfield's main employment sector is the oil industry, and the local area has a Sperling Air Quality Index of 1. The Sperling Water Quality Index is 42. Emissions from oil production facilities are largely the cause of these high pollution levels.

Bakersfield CA

1. Fresno, CA

A major local industry is agriculture, which has lead to the leaching of pesticides and other harmful chemicals into the groundwater. Residents suffer from adverse health effects from the poor groundwater quality, and Fresno also has the 5th worst ranking for air particle pollution. The city's Sperling Air Quality Index is rated 1 and the Sperling Water Quality Index is rated 22.

Fresno, CA

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