Surprise! It's Los Angeles. That's actually not a surprise in any way.
This year's State of the Air Report reveals California's air is a hot mess (quite literally), and the City of Angels is right at the center of it. Apparently, the heat and drought on the West Coast has created the perfect climate for pollution to thrive. The American Lung Association report ranked the air quality of major US metros according to ozone levels and particle pollution, taking data from the Environmental Protection Agency from 2011, 2012 and 2013.
The Los Angeles area won out (or lost out?) for ozone levels, and came in fifth in particle pollution. Fresno, CA took the title for having the most harmful particles in the air. Actually, Fresno probably has plenty of harmful particles on the ground, too, if you count humans as particles. And why wouldn't you?
It’s not all bad news for America, though. The cleanest cities weren't ranked, as many received the same score. But the Southeast came out the big winner, with Charleston, SC, a significant number of Florida cities, and Savannah, GA all feeling like a breath of fresh air. In the category of lowest year-round particle pollution, Prescott, AZ came in first. The sun may scorch Prescott's earth, but the air breathes clean. See the whole list of clean cities here.
Take a deep breath, relax, and thank all those people on bicycles for reducing pollution. And if you live in California -- well, try not to breathe too deep.
Here’s how the 10 most polluted cities stack up:
Highest Ozone Pollution
10. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
9. Las Vegas-Henderson, NV-AZ
8. Modesto-Merced, CA
7. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK
6. Houston-The Woodlands, TX
5. Sacramento-Roseville, CA
4. Fresno-Madera, CA
3. Bakersfield, CA
2. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA
1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
Highest Year-Round Particle Pollution
10. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH
9. Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV
8. Cincinnati-Wilmington-Maysville, OH-KY-IN
7. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA
6. El Centro, CA
5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
4. Modesto-Merced, CA
3. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA
2. Bakersfield, CA
1. Fresno-Madera, CA
Kara King is a Thrillist intern and SoCal native. She is still trying to make sense of this strange, worldwide phenomenon called “weather.” Follow her attempts to live without all that sunshine at @karatillie.