New study ranks Phoenix as the 6th dirtiest city in the US

Jun 25, 2024, 4:05 AM | Updated: 6:26 am

Dirtiest cities in the United States: Is Phoenix really No. 6?...

LawnStarter released the study on June 21, 2024. (File photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

(File photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Phoenix ranked No. 6 on a new list of the dirtiest cities in the United States.

The findings from LawnStarter, released Monday, compared Phoenix to around 300 other prominent U.S. cities.

The dirtiest American city in 2024 was San Bernardino, California, followed by Detroit in No. 2. Reading, Pennsylvania, was in No. 3, Newark was No. 4, and Ontario, California, was No. 5.

One other Arizona city made the list: Mesa at No. 18.

How the study found the dirtiest cities in the United States

Data analysts judged each city’s dirtiness based on four categories: pollution, living conditions, infrastructure and levels of local dissatisfaction.

To accurately analyze air pollution, they measured these metrics:

  • Median air quality index
  • Presence of water quality violations
  • Greenhouse gas emissions per capita
  • Annual excess fuel consumption
  • RSEI Score
  • Percentage of smokers
  • Share of residents exposed to near-roadway pollution

To judge living conditions, they looked at population density, share of overcrowded homes and two different shares of homes: those without complete kitchen facilities and those without complete plumbing facilities.

Data analysts also looked at the shares of residents who found the city dirty and untidy, along with those who were dissatisfied with pollution, garbage disposal and parks.

To measure infrastructure, analysts measured these metrics:

  • Number of junk yards
  • Access to public restrooms per square mile
  • Alternate fuel stations per 100,000 residents
  • Refuse and recycling collectors per 100,000 residents
  • Rating of state waste regulations and measures
  • Quantity of waste in landfills per 100,000 residents

However, the meticulous way Phoenix leaders collect data may have worked against them.

Analysts initially looked at the 500 biggest U.S. cities. However, they dropped 200 cities from their study. That’s because those cities didn’t have sufficient data in the categories.

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New study ranks Phoenix as the 6th dirtiest city in the US