The most polluted states in America

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
This Is What Pollution Does to Your Body

Breathing is as automatic as your heartbeat, but if you live in a polluted area, each breath could be detrimental to your health.

PM2.5 particles, classified as a fine air pollutant with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, have the ability to penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream. A study published in The Lancet found that for every 10 ug/m3 increase of PM2.5 particles, lung cancer incidences increased by 36 percent. Potential sources of PM2.5 include motor vehicles, power plants, wood burning and other industrial processes.

HealthGrove wanted to see which of the 50 U.S. states (and Washington, D.C.) has the most polluted air. Using data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we analyzed average daily fine particulate matter (ug/m3) from 2003 to 2011.

HealthGrove ranked the 25 most polluted states based on PM2.5 particle levels. For each state, we list the most polluted county as well as the rate of cancer and heart disease deaths — both of which are correlated to air pollutant levels.

Note that the top-polluted counties in each state are often not the most populated areas. This could be due to wind patterns that move pollution or the rural location of many industrial processes. Weather patterns also account for the lower levels of air pollution near coastal regions.

#25. Nebraska

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 11.21
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 185.1
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 180.9
Most Polluted County: Box Butte

#24. Michigan

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 11.41
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 205.8
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 244.1
Most Polluted County: Lenawee

#23. Wisconsin

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 11.47
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 198.9
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 197.9
Most Polluted County: Kenosha

#22. Louisiana

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 11.63
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 203.6
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 223.7
Most Polluted County: East Carroll

#21. California

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 11.65
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 150.6
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 157.3
Most Polluted County: Mono

#20. Minnesota

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 11.69
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 177.1
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 142.3
Most Polluted County: Pope

#19. Arkansas

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 12.13
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 226
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 249.3
Most Polluted County: Mississippi

#18. New Jersey

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 12.46
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 183.3
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 207.4
Most Polluted County: Hunterdon

#17. Delaware

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 12.87
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 205.8
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 201
Most Polluted County: New Castle

#16. Nevada

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 12.96
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 172.6
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 194.8
Most Polluted County: Esmeralda

#15. North Carolina

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 12.99
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 188.8
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 181.1
Most Polluted County: Cherokee

#14. South Carolina

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 13.16
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 204.1
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 202.1
Most Polluted County: Oconee

#13. Mississippi

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 13.16
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 218.2
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 257.9
Most Polluted County: Noxubee

#12. Virginia

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 13.26
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 174.5
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 165.4
Most Polluted County: Lee

#11. Georgia

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 13.3
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 164.3
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 165.6
Most Polluted County: Dawson

#10. Pennsylvania

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 13.35
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 223.2
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 247.6
Most Polluted County: Beaver

#9. Illinois

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 13.38
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 190.1
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 192.8
Most Polluted County: Wabash

#8. Maryland

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 13.47
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 178.9
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 189.7
Most Polluted County: Garrett

#7. Washington, DC

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 13.58
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 169.4
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 207.3

#6. West Virginia

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 13.76
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 254.4
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 251.6
Most Polluted County: Hancock

#5. Alabama

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 13.95
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 213.7
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 258
Most Polluted County: Hale

#4. Tennessee

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 14.02
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 214.8
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 227.9
Most Polluted County: Polk

#3. Kentucky

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 14.1
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 229.4
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 226.9
Most Polluted County: Webster

#2. Ohio

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 14.23
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 215.9
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 232.3
Most Polluted County: Carroll

#1. Indiana

Air Pollution (ug/m3): 14.36
Cancer Deaths (per 100K): 201.8
Heart Disease Deaths (per 100K): 209.6
Most Polluted County: Posey

Compare Conditions on HealthGrove

Read Full Story

People are Reading