Dirtiest cities in America. California leads the list

Credit: kmph.com

California, which is supposed to be all crunchy granola, environmentally squeaky clean, has 6 cities on the Forbes Top 20 Dirtiest Cities list; Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto, Riverside, San Jose, and Stockton.

1. Fresno
2. Bakersfield
3. Philadelphia PA
4. Bridgeport CT
5. Modesto
6. Riverside
7. New Haven CT
8. San Jose
9. Stockton
10. Milwaukee WI

With the exception of San Jose, the California cities are inland and agricultural, oil, and/or bedroom communities that got clobbered by the real estate crash. Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto, and Stockton are in the Central Valley.

Its geography doesn’t do it any favors. It’s a big, long bowl surrounded on three sides by mountains that trap pollutants from cars and factories and oil fields in an inversion layer.

San Jose, where we live now “is home to more than a dozen Superfund sites where chipmakers like Fairchild and Intel leaked toxic solvents into the earth. Ozone pollution is also a problem.”

Little bitty Connecticut, where I grew up, has two cities on the list; New Haven due to the intersection of two interstate highways and Bridgeport where manufacturing dumped toxic waster into wetlands. Connecticut is still one of the most prosperous states, but much of that comes from financial interests in the Greenwich area outside NYC and insurance companies in the Hartford area. Lately, some of the financial wealth has been going away as hedge funds close down. Connecticut, in my opinion, is in serious denial about the slumping condition of its finances.

This list of Dirtiest Cities is of cities with populations of 500,000 or more. There are numerous smaller cities and towns where things are considerably worse.