Philadelphia tops list of U.S. most toxic cities

Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:03pm EST
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By Bernd Debusmann Jr.

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Philadelphia, Bakersfield and Fresno, California, are the most toxic cities in America, according to a new study that looked at air and water quality in metropolitan areas.

"Philadelphia doesn't have great air, but other cities have worst," said Morgan Brennan, of, which conducted the report. "But the Philadelphia area has over 50 Superfund sites, really poor water quality, and a hefty amount of toxic releases."

New York City and Baton Rouge, in Louisiana rounded out the top five most toxic cities in the country.

To compile the list, looked at 80 of America's largest metropolitan areas and examined the number of Superfund locations, unused areas which contain hazardous materials, as well as the local Air Quality Index (AQI) and Toxics Release Index, a measure of how much toxic material is released, recycled or managed by local industries.

The Philadelphia metropolitan area includes more than 50 Superfund sites.

Cities in California also have particularly poor air quality. In 2009, Bakersfield had 43 days in which the AQI passed 100 on a 500-point scale, with zero being the best possible score.

Fresno had 29 days in which the AQI passed 100, and Los Angeles had 14. Most American cities can go an entire year without seeing the AQI pass 100.

Los Angeles captured the No. 6 spot on the list, which can found on   Continued...