What are the dirtiest cities in America? You would think that New York City would certainly be raked in the top, but surprisingly, that is not so. A new study finds that it can’t outdo the Hudson Valley—known as one of the beauty spots in the Northeast, when it comes to one aspect of big city living.
According to the lawn care company, LawnStarter, Yonkers was ranked the 10th dirtiest city in the company’s 2023’s Dirtiest Cities in America list, while NYC was 12th.
LawnStarter says that while city living has its advantages, having more residents usually equates with more pollution, more rats and more trash. However, the problem is worse in some cities than in others.
For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, LawnStarter gathered publicly available data on pollution, living conditions, infrastructure and consumer satisfaction. They then calculated weighted scores for each city in each category. Finally, they averaged the scores for each city across all categories. After eliminating 48 cities that lacked sufficient data for a fair comparison, they came up with a final sample size of 152 cities. The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “dirtiest” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “cleanest” (No. 152).
The dirtiest city on the list was Houston, Texas while the cleanest city on the list was Virginia Beach, Virginia.
While Yonkers came in at No. 10, nearby New York City came in at No. 12. Rochester was ranked No. 80, Syracuse came in at No. 112, and Buffalo took the No. 147 spot.
Newark, New Jersey had the No. 2 spot, Jersey City took the No. 5 spot, Philadelphia was No. 26, and Bridgeport, Connecticut came in at No. 37.
Here are the top 15 Dirtiest Cities in America:
San Bernardino, CA
Jersey City, NJ
San Antonio, TX
Oklahoma City, OK
New York, NY
Los Angeles, CA
During the pandemic, lockdowns helped clean our air and water, but old habits apparently die hard, according to LawnStarter. Nearly three years later, pollution is worse in many urban areas, and U.S. emissions are back up. In many cities, residents also deal with pests, litter and bad waste-management services.
Not only are these problems unsightly — they might be more harmful than we realize, according to the lawn care company. Air pollution can worsen lung cancer and increases our chances of heart disease and stroke. Dealing with dirt and grime can be quite draining on municipal budgets as well.
“Dirty cities aren’t just an eyesore — they also damage our bodies and our wallets,” LawnStarter said. As spring cleaning season arrives, the company says it’s a good time to check on our dirty habits and make positive changes for a healthier life and a more beautiful city to enjoy.
See the full list of dirtiest cities in the U.S. and find out more details about the methodology here.