Top 10 Most Polluted States in the U.S. Today

Can you breathe in and then breathe out without coughing? If you comfortably breathe while roaming outside, you live in a state with good air quality. If you pass through smog and avoid inhaling smoke daily, you may not live in a state with the cleanest air. Here are ten of the most polluted states in the U.S. today.

1. Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA skyline over the strip at dusk.
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Nevada garners a lot of pollution from its compact tourist-heavy town of Las Vegas. Each monumental skyscraper attributes to the dust, dirt, and pollution swirling through the streets, and the natural dust rolling in from the mountains doesn’t make it any easier to breathe. Plus, if you weave from casino to casino, you go from hot, arid air to putrid, smoky haze in the cold air conditioning, which isn’t a great combo for your lungs.

2. California

Los Angeles, California
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California invites pollution through the transportation industry and its peaks and valleys, which trap and spread pollution throughout the large state. With so many millions of inhabitants going about their daily lives, pollution adds to smoggy air and below-average air quality. Plus, the warmth in the state keeps the pollution in.

3. Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
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A significant pollution contributor in Illinois is the heavy amount of vehicles on the road. From cars to trucks to buses, these modes of transportation heat up the state and make breathing difficult. Wildfires and coal-fired stations also lead to poor air quality in the midwestern state.

4. District of Columbia

District of Columbia
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D.C. deals with pollutants from nearby cities, airplanes, trains, and cars. Finite particles from burning wood, diesel, and wildfires throat through the air and into the lungs, placing vulnerable populations at risk.

5. Colorado

Panorama of Denver skyline long exposure at twilight.
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Although the beautiful, mountainous state prides itself on outdoor activities, the air quality could be better. The Western state deals with a phenomenon known as ground-level ozone, a substance formed when nitrogen and other chemicals oxide and create a harmful gas. The layout of the state traps these gases, passing them between citizens.

6. Oklahoma

Oklahoma city
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The industrial regions spread throughout Oklahoma filter harmful gases into residents’ lungs. Citizens deal with ground-level ozone issues, car admissions, and carbon monoxide. The wind can also carry pollutants into Oklahoma from bordering states.

7. Iowa

Aerial View of Downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa
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When you think of Iowa, you think of potatoes and farmland. To maintain such a flourishing farm community, farmers need fertilizers and animals, which contribute to air pollution, and manure and runoff cause water pollution. In addition to that, vehicles add to the dirty air.

8. Wyoming

JACKSON HOLE, WY –1 AUG 2020- View of the Western town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, United States.
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A huge pollution factor in Wyoming is the commercial need to build more and more houses and apartment complexes. To construct new buildings, machinery operates on fuels that harm the environment and those around the equipment. Chemical production also continues to heat the climate.

9. Arizona

Tucson, Arizona, USA downtown skyline with Sentinel Peak at dusk.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

Arizona relies on commercial transportation, factory farming, diesel burning, and vehicle transportation to run a prosperous hot, western state. However, each fuel burned goes back into our lungs and affects our health.

10. Utah

Park City, Utah
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Like California and Nevada, Utah’s design causes pollutants such as dirt and smoke to build up inside the mountains before rolling through the state and disrupting daily life. Wildfires, natural disasters, and vehicle emissions cause pollution as well.

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