Even compared with the past two years of “State of the Air” reports—in which many cities and counties experienced their highest weighted average number of days ever reported for fine particle pollution—results this year were again worse throughout much of the western U.S.
Among those cities ranked in the worst 25, more had poorer air quality than showed improvement, with the weighted average number of days with high levels of fine particle pollution worsening on average by 3.6 (from 12.9 to 16.5), a 28% increase. Eight cities on this list posted their highest-ever weighted average number of days with unhealthy levels of particle pollution and two, Fairbanks, Alaska and Redding-Red Bluff, California, did so for their third report in a row.
Twenty of last year’s worst 25 cities remained listed among the 25 worst in this year’s report, though their relative ranks shifted around quite a bit. The five cities new to the list in 2022 were Salinas, San Luis Obispo and San Diego in California; Boise, Idaho and Bellingham, Washington.
Missoula, Montana; El Centro and Santa Barbara, California; Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Las Vegas all moved off the list of worst 25 cities. However, in two of these (Lancaster and Las Vegas), the air quality actually got worse. In fact, because the weighted averages for fine particles worsened so much generally, all five of these cities, plus Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado, posted weighted averages for particle pollution in the 2022 report higher than that of the 25th-ranked city in last year’s report.
Of all 25 cities, only one, Salt Lake City, posted its best performance ever for this pollutant—as it had in last year’s report. Its rank improved to 20th worst in this year’s report, from 17th last year, and 7th worst two years ago.