Watch Your Breath: The 10 Most Polluted Cities in the Nation

There's a pretty good chance you live in a city with air that's so polluted it's often unhealthy to breathe. Yes, you. 41% of Americans do. That's 127 million people. That's way too many.

The American Lung Association just released its annual 'State of the Air' report, which breaks down the most polluted cities in the nation. As usual, most of them can be found in California's Central Valley. Here are the three different 'top ten' lists, according to the different kinds of pollution:

Cities with the Most Year-Round Particulate Pollution
#1: Bakersfield-Delano, CA
#2: Hanford-Corcoran, CA
#3: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
#4: Visalia-Porterville, CA
#5: Fresno-Madera, CA
#6: Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA
#7: Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ
#8: Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, OH-KY-IN
#9: Louisville-Jefferson County-Elizabethtown-Scottsburg, KY-IN
#10: Philadelphia-Camden-Vineland, PA-NJ-DE-MD
#10 (It's a tie!): St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, MO-IL

Cities with the Most Short-Term Particulate Pollution
#1: Bakersfield-Delano, CA
#2: Fresno-Madera, CA
#3: Hanford-Corcoran, CA
#4: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
#5: Modesto, CA
#6: Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA
#7: Salt Lake City-Ogden-Clearfield, UT
#8: Logan, UT-ID
#9: Fairbanks, AK
#10: Merced, CA

Cities with the Most Ozone Pollution
#1: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
#2: Visalia-Porterville, CA
#3: Bakersfield-Delano, CA
#4: Fresno-Madera, CA
#5: Hanford-Corcoran, CA
#6: Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Yuba City, CA-NV
#7: San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
#8: Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX
#9: San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA
#10: Merced, CA

Hey, strong showing in all three by Bakersfield, L.A., and Hanford-Corcoran—nice work fellas; way to hustle.

If you're looking for a silver lining in a report as inherently depressing as this one, at least there's this: 22 of the 25 most polluted cities showed signs of improvement from last year's report. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need tough air quality standards and plans to reduce traffic congestion—they work!—and we need them to keep getting stricter and more progressive, until 41% of the country isn't breathing polluted air.

Tags: Air Pollution | Air Quality | United States

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