Pollution. The word gets thrown around so much these days that we wouldn't blame you if the term has lost some of its sting. What specifically makes one city more polluted than the other? Big-name cities get the obvious knock, but the rankings for everyone else can seem haphazardly gathered at times, their data meshing and looming into one giant, confused mass — much like the smog that hovers overhead.
So if you guessed the country's most polluted city is in California, congratulations, you're right. The Golden State takes 22 of the top 30 cities among three categories.
But if you guessed it's L.A., well, stay confused.
The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air Campaign for 2013 reported that the Commander-In-Chief for both year-round pollution and short-term pollution is none other than Bakersfield, California.
Thanks to a combination of oil production, agricultural practices, and the largest population growth of any American city in the past decade, Bakersfield ranks highest in both annual average of particle concentration (year-round) and in particle spikes averaged over a 24-hour period (short-term).
The City of Angels doesn't fall into the top three in either of these groups. Merced, CA, and Fresno-Madera, CA, follow in year-round pollution, while Fresno-Madera and Hanford-Corcoran go one-two, respectively, in the short term.