Wednesday, March 23, 2011

U.S. Most Toxic Cities

 America's Most Toxic Cities

Remember the articles on the Chair of Health? Avoiding toxins is one of those legs.

America's Most Toxic Cities, 2011, an article by Morgan Brennan,, Feb 28, 2011

(This article has been abbreviated for space considerations – please go to to read the entire article).

Now we're not saying that if you reside in one of these areas, you need to pack up and move, or seal your windows shut. But it pays to be aware of the risks in your area. For example, the EPA says when the Air Quality Index for an area climbs above 100 (ratings range from zero to 500, with zero being the best) it can bring on respiratory problems for people with lung disease, children and older adults. Above 150, everyone can suffer. Most cities don't even have a single day each year when the AQI is above 100. But Bakersfield , Calif. , which ranks second on our list, had 43 such days in 2009, Fresno (No. 3) had 29 days, and Los Angeles (No. 6) had 14.

Behind the Numbers

We started with the 80 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau--urban areas with populations of half a million and up. Then we averaged their rankings on five measures, giving equal weight to each of the five. Three of those measures--air quality, water quality and Superfund sites--were drawn from Sperling's Best Places, which compiles health and quality-of-living indexes for cities and towns across the country. The other two we derived directly from EPA data: the number of days when AQI exceeded 100 in 2009 (the latest year available), and the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). What's TRI? Certain industries, including manufacturing, utilities and metal and coal mining, are required to report to the EPA if they release, recycle, treat or manage any of 650 potentially dangerous chemicals. We ranked the areas based on the EPA's tally of how many pounds were reported released in each MSA in 2009.

As for water quality, the greater Philadelphia area got hit with Sperling's worst rating; Fresno was second-worst and New York City (No. 4 overall) came in third for its water. We also consulted ratings of drinking water compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. (Since the EWG data doesn't cover all of the 80 metro areas we compared, we didn't use it in our numerical ranks. But it's worth noting that many of our most toxic picks are also on the EWG worst water utilities list.)

EWG's rankings are based on its own extensive tap water tests for pollutants and toxic substances. Jane Houlihan, senior vice president of research at EWG, notes that these tests turn up everything from arsenic and lead to water disinfection byproducts. EWG has even found traces of Tylenol, caffeine and birth control pills in some of these cities, though those substances aren't considered toxic and aren't monitored by the EPA.

No. 5 Baton Rouge , La.
Number of unhealthy air quality days (2009): None
Pounds of on-site toxic releases reported (2009): 33.6 million
EWG top water concern: N/A

No. 4 New York , N.Y.
MSA: New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island , N.Y./N.J./Pa.
Number of unhealthy air quality days (2009): 5
Pounds of on-site toxic releases reported (2009): 4.1 million
EWG top water concerns: Total haloacetic acids; dieldrin; total trihalomethanes

No. 3 Fresno , Calif.
Number of unhealthy air quality days (2009): 26
Pounds of on-site toxic releases reported (2009): 338,000
EWG top water concern: Nitrates

No. 2 Bakersfield , Calif.
Number of unhealthy air quality days (2009): 43
Pounds of on-site toxic releases reported (2009): 2.2 million
EWG top water concern: N/A

No. 1 Philadelphia , Pa.
MSA: Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa./N.J./Del./Md.
Number of unhealthy air quality days (2009): 2
Pounds of on-site toxic releases reported (2009): 11.3 million
EWG top water concern: Total trihalomethanes

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  1. This is fact. We can see there so much noise and air pollution. So because there is create now toxic atmosphere. These cities are really toxic cities in US.

  2. It's a really good information about U.S. Most Toxic Cities. It's really interesting and fruitful for me. I want to take him.