Bakersfield Named Worst Air Polluted Place in US

March 15, 2023

An analysis by The Guardian has revealed the worst 10 places for fine particle air pollution in the United States, with the area around Bakersfield, California topping the list.

According to researchers, the places within the contiguous U.S. that were most affected by pollution were also areas with higher Black and Hispanic populations. Race, the article noted, appears to be more of an indicator of air pollution severity than that of income.

“What we’re seeing here is segregation,” Julian Marshall, professor of environmental engineering at the University of Washington and co-director of the Center for Air, Climate and Energy Solutions told The Guardian. “You have segregation of people and segregation of pollution.”

According to The Guardian, the fine air pollution particles recorded, known as Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5, are emitted by cars, factories, wildfires, and dusty agricultural activities. These particles can enter the lungs and bloodstream, causing deadly illnesses such as respiratory disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

The analysis used data collected between 2011 and 2015 to determine which places were the nation’s most polluted, which included areas within Los Angeles and Chicago in the second and third spots, respectively, on the list.

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