The top 20 'dirtiest' cities in America, according to study



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  • LawnStarter, a lawn care provider, evaluated more than 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., focusing on pollution, living conditions, infrastructure, and resident satisfaction.

  • Houston topped the list of so-called dirtiest cities due to high levels of pollution, a significant cockroach problem, and greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial plants.

  • Number two was Newark, New Jersey.

(NEXSTAR) — One of the largest cities in the South has dethroned an urban East Coast area to become the nation’s “dirtiest” city, according to a recent study.

LawnStarter, a lawn care provider, evaluated more than 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., focusing on pollution, living conditions, infrastructure, and resident satisfaction.

The study analyzed data from various federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Census Bureau, Department of Energy, and Environmental Protection Agency.

Houston topped the list of so-called dirtiest cities due to high levels of pollution, a significant cockroach problem, and greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial plants.

Researchers also cited a 2022 report from the nonprofit media organization Grist, which found that some of Houston’s “petrochemical facilities severely violated EPA safety guidelines.”

Back in April, the EPA announced that chemical plants like those in Texas’ Gulf Coast and “Louisiana’s Cancer Alley” must reduce toxic air pollution to help safeguard public health.

Despite these challenges, some Houstonians report higher satisfaction with their city’s cleanliness compared to residents in 33 other large cities.

The cities that rounded out the top five include Newark, New Jersey (which previously held the dirtiest city title); San Bernardino, California; Detroit, Michigan; and Jersey City, New Jersey. Here’s the full top 20:

  1. Houston, Texas
  2. Newark, New Jersey
  3. San Bernardino, California
  4. Detroit, Michigan
  5. Jersey City, New Jersey
  6. Bakersfield, California
  7. San Antonio, Texas
  8. Fresno, California
  9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  10. Yonkers, New York
  11. Shreveport, Louisiana
  12. New York, New York
  13. Birmingham, Alabama
  14. Ontario, California
  15. Los Angeles, California
  16. Modesto, California
  17. Palmdale, California
  18. Hollywood, Florida
  19. Las Vegas, Nevada
  20. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Several California cities — such as Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino — also ranked among the dirtiest. San Bernardino had the most dissatisfied residents regarding cleanliness for the second year in a row.

Additionally, the study highlighted the Southwest’s water issues, worsened by drought and climate change. Las Vegas was named the dirtiest in the region, ranking at No. 19, while Chandler, Arizona, is the cleanest at No. 71.

In Ohio, cigarette litter is a common problem across the state, according to the study. Cleveland had the highest percentage of smokers (29.1%), leading to litter problems despite strict laws. Columbus, however, had the lowest (22.1%) and was one of the cleaner cities overall at No. 137.

On the flip side, Virginia Beach, Virginia, stood out as the cleanest city for the second year in a row, showcasing low pollution levels and high consumer satisfaction. Other top performers included Fremont, California; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Des Moines, Iowa.

Click here to see the full study.



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