top of page
  • Writer's pictureTom Petersen

Philadelphia Air Pollution - Is Philadelphia Really That Polluted?

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Following the release of Forbes’ 2011 Most Toxic Cities list many Philadelphians experienced a twinge of panic when the City of Brotherly Love took the not-so-coveted top spot. The 80 largest metropolitan cities in the U.S. were scored based on air quality, water quality, Superfund sites, the number of days when Air Quality Index exceeded 100 in 2009 (the latest year available) and the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). While the Forbes report found Philadelphia to be the dirtiest city in the country, not all reports concur.

According to the 2011 State of the Air Report, conducted by the American Lung Association, Philadelphia ranked 20th or lower, depending on how the cities were tested. The most polluted city by ozone was Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA, and Philadelphia ranked 20th. The most polluted city by year round and short-term particle pollution was Bakersfield-Delano, CA, while Philadelphia ranked 24th in year round and 20th in short term.

According to the ALA, the 2011 State of the Air Report looked at levels of ozone and particle pollution found in monitoring sites across the United States in 2007, 2008, and 2009. The report used the most current quality-assured nationwide data available for the analysis. The topics below will link you to more information. These rankings vary drastically from the Forbes list as a result of the differences in methodology. Therefore, one ranking may not give a true interpretation of your city’s air quality.

To learn more about air quality and pollution in your area visit the



bottom of page