Which cities have the worst air pollution in America?

The American Lung Association has released its annual State of the Air report for 2023 and ranked cities with the worst air pollution as well as the cities with the cleanest air across the U.S.

Analysts collected daily and annual air pollution data from 2019-2021 for what the association called the most widespread and dangerous air pollutants – fine particles and ozone. They ranked each metropolitan area from the most polluted to the cleanest for annual particle pollution, annual ozone pollution and short-term particle pollution.

Top 25 cities with the worst air pollution

Los Angeles takes the top spot for the worst ozone pollution this year, as it has for 23 of the 24 years this report has been calculated.

Several places in California's Central Valley take top spots for particle pollution. Bakersfield and Fresno top the list for failing short-term particle pollution grades. Visalia and Bakersfield share the crown for worst annual particle pollution.

"Although cities most affected by western drought and wildfires, including eight in California, three in Oregon, and three others in Alaska, Arizona, and Washington, still represented the largest share, cities with high power plant emissions as well as local industrial and mobile sources of year-round particle pollution continued to show up on this list," stated the report about annual particle pollution.

Only Pittsburgh and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, made the short-term particle pollution fail list east of the Mississippi River.

1 Bakersfield, California 

2 Visalia, California 

3 Fresno-Madera-Hanford, California 

4 Los Angeles-Long Beach, California 

5 Fairbanks, Alaska 

6 Sacramento-Roseville, California

7 San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California 

8 Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona 

9 Medford-Grants Pass, Oregon 

10 Indianapolis-Carmel-Muncie Indiana

11 Yakima, Washington 

12 Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, Michigan 

13 Chico, California 

14 Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia 

15 Eugene-Springfield, Oregon 

16 Augusta-Richmond County Georgia, South Carolina 

17 Houston-The Woodlands, Texas 

18 El Centro, California 

19 Cincinnati-Wilmington-Maysville Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana 

20 Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, Alabama 

21 McAllen-Edinburg, Texas 

22 Louisville-Jefferson County-Elizabethtown-Bardstown Kentucky, Indiana 

23 Bend-Pineville, Oregon 

24 Laredo, Texas 

25 Chicago-Naperville Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin

These cities have the cleanest air in the US

Seven cities are on the cleanest-air list for all three measures: annual particle pollution, ozone pollution and short-term particle pollution. All had zero days in high particle and ozone pollution.

  • Asheville-Marion-Brevard, North Carolina.
  • Bangor, Maine.
  • Greenville-Kingston-Washington, North Carolina.
  • Lincoln-Beatrice, Nebraska.
  • Rochester-Batavia-Seneca Falls, New York.
  • Urban Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • Wilmington, North Carolina.

Elmira, New York; Burlington, Vermont; Charlotte-Harrisonburg-Roanoke, Virginia, and Virginia Beach, Virginia, dropped off the cleanest list.