TEXAS (KIAH) – Pollution affects us all, but some areas of the country may suffer more due to the level of pollution in the air, according to a new report from the American Lung Association (ALA).
The “State of the Air” report, which the ALA releases every year, showed that while California dominated the list of most polluted cities, some Texas residents live with polluted air.
To measure this, the report lays out two types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone pollution. Particle pollution is a mixture of tiny bits of solids and liquids in the air that we breathe. Ozone pollution, often referred to as smog, is a result of pollutants “cooking” together in the sunlight and chemically reacting to form ozone. This pollutant is sometimes referred to as “ground-level ozone” to help distinguish it from the ozone that protects us from the sun.
According to the report, three Texas metropolitan areas ranked among the worst 25 cities for annual particle pollution.
The greater Houston area ranked 15, tying with Augusta-Richmond County metropolitan area in Georgia and South Carolina, as well as an Oregon region containing Eugene and Springfield.
The McAllen-Edinburg area of Texas ranked 21 in the report, while Laredo ranked 23 at the bottom of the list, tying with Bend, Oregon and the greater Chicago area.
Below is a list of the 25 cities most polluted by annual particle pollution, according to the report:
- #1: Bakersfield, CA (tie)
- #1: Visalia, CA (tie)
- #3: Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA
- #4: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
- #5: Fairbanks, AK
- #6: Sacramento-Roseville, CA
- #7: Medford-Grants Pass, OR (tie)
- #7: San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA (tie)
- #7: Phoenix-Mesa, AZ (tie)
- #10: Indianapolis-Carmel-Muncie, IN
- #11: Yakima, WA
- #12: Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI
- #13: Chico, CA
- #14: Pittsburg-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV
- #15: Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC (tie)
- #15: Eugene-Springfield, OR (tie)
- #15: Houston-The Woodlands, TX (tie)
- #18: Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, AL (tie)
- #18: Cincinnati-Wilmington-Maysville, OH-KY-IN (tie)
- #18: El Centro, CA (tie)
- #21: McAllen-Edinburg, TX
- #22: Louisville-Jefferson County-Elizabethtown-Bardstown, KY
- #23: Bend-Prineville, OR (tie)
- #23: Chicago-Naperville, IL-IN-WI (tie)
- #23: Laredo, TX (tie)
Researchers found people of color are carrying a larger share of the unhealthy air burden than their white counterparts. Nearly 54% of the 120 million people who live in counties that failed to meet at least one air quality measurement are people of color.
The report also noted 23 of the 25 worst cities for short-term particle pollution were in the western U.S. Those cities represented the majority of the rankings for daily and annual pollution. However, cities containing high power plant emissions as well as local industrial and mobile sources of pollution helped diversify the list of annual pollution spread.