2 California cities have worst air pollution in US: study

Two California cities just topped a recent list of worst places in the United States to live if you want clear air - but are you even surprised?

A recent analysis published by The Guardian ranked the neighborhoods across the contiguous U.S. that have the worst air pollution based on a model developed by researchers at institutions including the University of Washington. 

Bakersfield in Kern County took the top spot as the city with the most unhealthy air in the United States, mostly due to its "unlucky location" in the state's Central Valley about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. Kern County produces the most oil in California and is known for production in natural gas, mining, and petroleum refining - all contributing to the bad air pollution, researchers said. 

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According to The Guardian, the entire region has failed to meet the Clean Air Act’s target for most of the last 25 years.

South Los Angeles ranked second on the list with its landlocked neighborhood such as Compton, Maywood, and Paramount, that are surrounded by a system of freeway interchanges, railyards, and warehouses.

Compared to people who live across town in the Bel Air neighborhood, South Los Angeles residents breathe 50% more polluted air, according to the analysis.

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Researchers said although the data in this analysis was recorded between 2011 and 2015, pollution patterns tend to remain steady and unchanged over several years.

Here's the full list of top 10 worst places to live in the U.S. if you want clean air:  

  1. Bakersfield area, California 
  2. South Los Angeles, California 
  3. Chicago's South and West Sides
  4. North-west Indiana
  5. Central Indianapolis
  6. Houston, Texas
  7. St. Louis, Missouri
  8. Central Pennsylvania
  9. Central Atlanta, Georgia
  10. Central Birmingham, Alabama

Additionally, researchers declared race is more of a predictor of air pollution exposure than income level. 

To see the full study and methodology, tap or click here.