Salt Lake City, Utah
1 / 19

Did Your Town Make the List?

Fewer people are breathing smoggy air, thanks to clean air laws. But smog, or ground-level ozone, still poses a health threat. About one-third of Americans live in areas with unhealthy air. Dirty air can make it hard to breathe and raises your odds of having lung cancer, asthma, heart attack, strokes, and more. Do you live in a smog hot spot? The American Lung Association's top 10 smog cities for 2017 has the answers.

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las vegas
2 / 19

No. 10: Las Vegas-Henderson, NV

It’s a slight win for Sin City this year when it comes to smog. After two years at the No. 9 spot, it improves one notch -- and recorded its lowest ozone levels yet. But smog still thrives in this casino city, thanks to more than 300 days of sunshine and warmth. Vegas cracks down on smoke-spewing vehicles that fuel ground-level ozone (smog). Its smog spotter program has been catching them for over 20 years.

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new york city
3 / 19

No. 9: New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA

More than 23 million people breathe in dirty air in the Big Apple and nearby areas. On this year’s air pollution report card, the bustling metropolis gets a bad grade for ozone. Much of the smog comes from the many cars that clog the area’s busy roadways. New York fails EPA guidelines for both ozone and dangerous particle pollution.

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4 / 19

No. 8: Sacramento-Roseville, CA

California’s capital city continues to make strides when it comes to stopping smog. It improves two spots from last year’s No. 6 position. Since 2000, the region’s number of unhealthy ozone days dropped from 89 to 31. Four major highways, plenty of smog-producing vehicles, and agricultural and freight operations fuel this smog hot spot.  

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san diego
5 / 19

No. 7: San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

California’s Beach City boasts near perfect weather year-round, but it gets bad grades when it comes to ozone. Smog can smother the blue skies and fresh ocean breezes here. San Diego leaps six spots, from No. 13 last year. Cloudless skies, low wind speeds, and warm weather help smog thrive in this Pacific Coast region. Levels spike in summer and early fall.

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6 / 19

No. 6: Modesto-Merced, CA

The San Joaquin Valley area has been a top 10 smog city for years. And it keeps inching up the list. This year marks its lowest number of bad ozone days yet, though. That’s good news for the 800 million folks living there -- especially the nearly 200 million under 18. Smog is very bad for young lungs. Studies link high ozone to lung problems in babies, and kids with asthma are more likely to be admitted to hospitals on bad ozone days. 

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7 / 19

No. 5: Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ

The greater Phoenix area once again takes fifth place on the list. Hot, dry weather and more than 4.5 million residents fuel the unhealthy air. The land of lush resorts, golf courses, parks, and preserves encourages carpooling and bike riding to help lower ozone levels.

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Loading Oranges In Visalia California
8 / 19

No. 4: Visalia-Portervillle-Hanford, CA

The air in this gateway area to Sequoia National Park keeps getting better. It’s one notch farther down the list this year. But record high ozone levels continue to blanket the region and pose a health threat. The area’s weather and geography help trap smog and other types of dangerous, dirty air.

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Smoggy Sky Over San Joaquin Valley
9 / 19

No. 3: Fresno-Madera, CA

California’s wine country will take your breath away. But that isn’t always a good thing. More than 1 million residents and many more visitors breathe in unhealthy levels of ozone in this Central California region. The area had fewer high-ozone days but still rose a notch on this year’s list. Like other areas in the Golden State, weather and geography fuel the ozone spikes.   

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10 / 19

No. 2: Bakersfield, CA

This sprawling Southern California city has a long history with dirty air. It stays put as the nation’s second-worst smog city. But there has been progress -- the city marked its best ever number of bad ozone days. Emissions from cars, trucks, and nearby oil companies cause the problem.

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los angeles
11 / 19

No. 1: Los Angeles

The City of Angels once again earns an F for the number of unhealthy air days. But it’s getting better at cleaning up smog. This year, Los Angeles reached its lowest levels of bad ozone days ever reported. The American Lung Association credits laws that lower emissions from power plants, cars, and trucks.

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12 / 19

Particle Pollution: Visalia, CA

The American Lung Association’s report doesn’t just give marks for smog. It also measures levels of tiny particulates in the air. That’s the gunk that gets stuck deep in your lungs and causes breathing problems -- especially if you have asthma or COPD. This year’s report ranks Visalia-Porterville-Hanford as the most polluted place in the nation for year-round particle pollution.

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beautiful lake
13 / 19

Six Cities Get A's for Clean Air

Fresh air is in high supply in six U.S. cities, up from four last year. A Cleanest City ranking means that town had zero high ozone or high particle pollution days and ranked among the 25 cities with the lowest year-round particle levels. Five locales are repeat rankers, but one joins the list for the first time. 

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burlington vermont
14 / 19

Clean Air: Burlington-South Burlington, VT

Vermont’s largest city keeps its ranking as one of the country’s cleanest. This charming college town is tucked in between Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains. Here, an awe-inspiring landscape, walkable downtown, and plentiful parks will leave you breathless -- in a good way.

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cape coral
15 / 19

Clean Air: Cape Coral-Fort Myers-Naples, FL

Fresh air and warm ocean breezes are plentiful in this Gulf Coast area of the Sunshine State. The home to more than 1 million residents fell off the Cleanest Cities list in 2016 but is back this year. This boater’s paradise boasts about 400 miles of waterways and shorelines.

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plaza in corning ny
16 / 19

Clean Air: Elmira-Corning, N.Y.

In addition to clean air, this area is home to wineries, rolling hills, and hiking trails. It sits on the edge of New York’s Finger Lakes region, so there are plenty of places to cast your fishing rod and relax. You can even find the Victorian home sites that inspired much of Mark Twain's work. 

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honolulu hawaii
17 / 19

Clean Air: Honolulu

Despite a million locals and scads of tourists, the island paradise of Oahu is almost smog-free. Credit the constant breezes that whisk pollution out to sea. Lots of rainfall and little heavy industry also help keep the air clean.

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melbourne florida
18 / 19

Clean Air: Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL

Florida’s central east coast is no stranger to the list. Here, you can breathe easy and take a tour of the Space Coast or make the short drive to Disney World. Fresh, clean air and a robust market for high-tech research and development make this a hot spot. Forbes listed Palm Bay as the 15th Fastest Growing City in the U.S. in 2014 and again this year.  

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wilmington north carolina
19 / 19

Clean Air: Wilmington, NC

This charming coastal town is a newcomer to the Cleanest City list -- and that’s a big deal to North Carolina. Its appearance makes history for the state, as no other city there has ever placed on the healthy air list. Wilmington recorded zero unhealthy air days. Tougher emissions laws and the NC Clean Smokestacks Act helped improve air quality in this quaint beachfront location. 

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 05/04/2016 Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on May 04, 2016


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6)        Carl Skaggs

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18)       Michele Haro

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American Lung Association: News Release.

American Lung Association State of the Air 2017: “Cape Coral-Fort Myers-Naples, FL,” “Cleanest U.S. Cities,” “Fresno-Madera, CA,”   “Modesto-Merced, CA,” “Most Polluted Cities," “New York-Newark,” “NY-NJ-CT-PA,” “New York, New York,” “Ozone Pollution,” “Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ,” “Sacramento," “San Joaquin Valley,” “Urban Honolulu, HI,” "Wilmington, NC.”

American Lung Association: “State of the Air 2015: Most Polluted Cities,” "State of the Air 2016," "State of the Air 2017."

Southwest Climate Change Network: “Climate of the Southwest.”

Smog Spotter: “Keep Nevada’s Air Healthy.”

Nevada Senate Committee on Natural Resources: “Minutes of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources.”

Clean Air NY: “Air Quality Information.”

San Diego Tourism Authority: “Welcome to San Diego.”

City of Carlsbad: “Recirculated Portions of the Draft EIR: Air Quality.”

Maricopa County, AZ: “Maricopa County Air Quality Department's Ozone Campaign Kickoff.”

Visit Visalia: “Welcome to Visalia.”

Madera County Economic Development Commission: “One of the oldest wine grape-producing regions in the state.”

Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce: “Burlington, VT.”

Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce: “About Cape Coral.”

New York’s Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance: “Chemung County.”

University of Hawaii, Department of Geology & Geophysics, Ask-An-Earth-Scientist: "Air Quality in Hawaii."

The City of Palm Bay, Florida: “Demographics.”

Lewis and Clark Law School: “State Environmental Policy Innovations: North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act.”

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on May 04, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.