The 10 Most Polluted Cities in the United States

The U.S. is a melting pot — of ozone, particle and short-term pollution.

Every day, humans create a dangerous mix of harmful contaminants that are slowly but surely destroying our environment.

The American Lung Association produces a State of the Air report each year, which details the U.S. cities with the worst air pollution. Major states like California and Texas largely dominate the list, thanks to their size, with repeat offender cities such as Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas. In fact, the top three cities of 2013 stayed in the exact same spots.


Here are the top 10 U.S. cities with the worst air pollution in 2014.

  • Smog_city-1

    1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.

    Smog covers downtown Los Angeles on April 28, 2009. The total population of the metropolitan area is 18,238,998. The city trio was also the top polluted area in 2013.

    Image: AP/Nick Ut/Associated Press
  • Smog_city-2

    2. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.

    Canadian geese fly over a field near Visalia, Calif. on Feb. 5, 2014. The area, which also placed second in 2013, has a population of 603,341.

    Image: David McNew/Getty Images
  • Smog_city-3

    3. Bakersfield, Calif.

    A bronze hue settles over a dry highway in Bakersfield, Calif. The city faced an intense drought following a heat wave in 2006. The area’s population is 856,158.

    Image: David McNew/Getty Images
  • Smog_city-4

    4. Fresno-Madera, Calif.

    Kearney Park in Fresno, Calif. is covered in smog on Jan. 24, 2011. The population of Fresno and Madera is 1,100,113.

    Image: Eric Paul Zamora/Fresno Bee/MCT via Getty Images
  • Smog_city-5

    5. Sacramento-Roseville, Calif.

    An owl flies over the pink skies of foggy Bethel Island, down in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, on Sept. 29, 2005. The area has a population of 2,462,722.

    Image: David McNew/Getty Images
  • Smog_city-6

    6. Houston-The Woodlands, Texas

    The blazing-hot city of Houston is covered in smog on June 26, 2000. The mega Houston-Baytown-Huntsville area has a total population of 6,371,677.

    Image: Joe Raedle/Newsmakers
  • Merced

    7. Modesto-Merced, Calif.

    A single tree sits in a vastly empty field in Merced, Calif. The West Coast continues to dominate the top 10 list with Modesto and Merced, with a combined population of 784,031.

    Image: Flickr, Gord McKenna
  • Smog_city-7

    8. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas-OK

    Dallas is covered in chilly snow in this photo taken from the 37th floor of a Sheraton hotel on Feb. 4, 2011. The combined Dallas-Fort Worth area boasts a population of 7,095,411.

    Image: Michael Heiman/Getty Images
  • Smog_city-8

    9. Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, D.C.-Md.-Va.-W.Va.

    The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. is covered in a hazy fog in Aug. 7, 2007. The metropolitan hotspot, with a population of 9,331,587, is tied for eighth place with the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

    Image: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images
  • Vegas

    10: Las Vegas-Henderson, Nev.-Ariz.

    Las Vegas, the party city, and Henderson in Arizona round out the list, with a combined population of 2,247,056.

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