A study about the dirtiest cities in America in 2023 was conducted, with Houston topping the list and Virginia Beach, Virginia, being the cleanest place in the US.
Although there are benefits to living in a city, more people generally means more pollution, rodents, and rubbish. Some cities are more affected by the issue than others.
Almost 150 of the largest American cities were assessed in four categories—pollution, quality of life, infrastructure, and customer satisfaction.
You might want to buy some air fresheners, mousetraps, or a can of Raid depending on where you reside.
See the ranking to see how your city and others did:
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The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty
Houston, We Have a Problem
As America’s Dirtiest City, Space City tops our ranking’s waste heap. It claims the title from Newark, New Jersey, which was this year’s No. 2 and its predecessor for 2022.
Space City is the third most polluting city out of the 152 we ranked. In reality, according to recent research, the city’s petrochemical facilities flagrantly disregard EPA safety regulations.
Our results back up these conclusions: In terms of greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial operations, Houston is the third worst. According to the Census Bureau, the city is also home to the worst cockroach infestation.
Notwithstanding these issues, Houstonians nevertheless have higher levels of satisfaction with their city’s cleanliness than citizens of 33 other large cities, including Amarillo (No. 33) and Fort Worth (No. 32).
Salt Life = the Good Life?
Although “coastal” doesn’t always mean “clean,” cities near water, especially those in California, Virginia, and North Carolina, make up the majority of the top 10 cleanest places in our ranking.
Virginia Beach, Virginia, dominates the list of cities for the second year in a row. The city’s exceptional rating includes above-average living conditions (No. 112) and a lack of pollution (No. 149), all of which are highly acclaimed by residents (No. 132 in Consumer Satisfaction).
Based on comparable rankings, more inland places such as Fremont, California (No. 148), and Winston-Salem, North Carolina (No. 146), shone as well.
Des Moines, the only city from the Heartland to make the list at No. 149, received excellent marks across the board, particularly in the category of living conditions.
All Choked Up
The 15th worst city, Los Angeles, is frequently referred to as the pollution poster child. The Inland Empire region, east of Los Angeles, which was once an orange paradise but is now a sea of warehouses, has, nonetheless, regularly had the worst air quality in the country.
In our own research, this pattern was confirmed. San Bernardino, Riverside, and Ontario, three of the largest cities in the Inland Empire, are tied for having the worst median air quality.
When your own citizens already refer to your city as the “Armpit of California,” it’s a rather low bar to clear, but San Bernardino managed to drop from fourth to third dirtiest this year.
San Bernardino has the most dissatisfied inhabitants when it comes to the cleanliness of their city for the second year in a row, which is supported by our ranking. Overall, other cities in the area did better, but some of them weren’t too far behind in terms of consumer satisfaction.
The Life Un-aquatic
The water situation in the Southwest is a double whammy because both quantity and quality are deteriorating. The Southwest’s water supply has been decimated by decades of drought, climate change, and overconsumption, which has also made drinking water more contaminated.
All of the Southwest cities we ranked, with the exception of Salt Lake City, broke the Safe Drinking Water Act at least once in 2020, according to the most recent EPA data.
Lack of access to clean water, much alone water itself, can significantly lower the quality of life, but there are other sanitation issues in the Southwest as well. Each city in this area scored in the bottom half of our list. The “dirtiest” of them all is Las Vegas, which is ranked No. 19, while Chandler, Arizona, is ranked No. 71.
The Butt of All Dirty Jokes
Cigarette butts, specifically, are being kicked onto areas where Ohioans shouldn’t be. The most common type of trash found worldwide is cigarette butts, which is also one of the dirtiest problems in some of the largest cities in Buckeye State.
The top six slots of our “share of smokers” statistic are occupied by five of the six Ohio cities that we ranked. Among the six Ohio cities, Cleveland has the greatest percentage (29.1%), while Columbus (ranked 137th nationwide for cleanliness) has the lowest percentage (22.1%).
According to data from the Henley Global Citizens Report, New York City tops the list of the world’s richest cities.
Although there are stringent rules against littering, it is not true that every smoker in Ohio leaves cigarette butts behind. Thankfully, communities like Cleveland have implemented initiatives to assist locals in breaking their trash problem.
Yet, our research indicates that the state’s smoking cessation initiatives may be improved.