Cities With The Worst Air Quality In North America

Monterrey, Mexico has the worst air quality in North America.
Monterrey, Mexico has the worst air quality in North America.

Air pollutants can be either in the rural or urban areas. The main pollutants come from emission as a result of energy combustion and production. Motor vehicles, industries, poorly disposed waste matter, burning of fossil fuels, and greenhouse emissions are examples of factors that lower the quality of air. Hazardous mixtures of chemicals, biological materials, and particulate matters reacts with each other to make small hazardous particles that may contribute to ill health. Smoke and smell are classified as nuisances that are detrimental to health and negatively affect the ecosystem. Below are the leading cities in various countries in air pollution.

Worst Air Quality in North America

Air Pollution Mexico

Mexico has the highest levels of pollution in Latin America with the air quality of most cities being highly contaminated. Out of the top ten worst cities, six are in Mexico. The metropolitan area of Monterrey (MAM) which is located in the State of Nuevo is the leading city is air pollution. The high deterioration in quality of air is largely contributed by millions of vehicles on the roads. The indiscriminate use of motor vehicles is responsible for the various pollutants such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, Sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons, and other inhalable tiny particles. Air pollution in Monterrey is the worst at PM10, ug/m3 pollution of 86 micrograms per cubic meter on average. The pollution rate is far above the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO). Toluca City in Mexico is rated second in quality of air. The city has a rating of PM10 pollution of 80 micrograms per cubic meter. The area is mainly rural and emission from motor vehicles and the industries is evident. Salamanca city has a PM10 pollution of 60 micrograms per cubic meter. Leon City has a PM10 pollution of 58 micrograms per cubic meter while Irapuato has PM10, ug/m3 pollution of 55 micrograms per cubic meter.

Air Pollution the United States

Air pollution in the US has also reached unhealthy levels in the recent years. The main contributors are motor vehicles, diesel engines, and industrial emissions. In urban centers, old diesel fuel cars and trucks, which are poorly maintained, pollute the air the most. In rural areas, the main pollutants include greenhouse emissions and fuel for residential use such as wood for cooking and heating. Forest fires have contributed majorly to the pollution. The U.S government has enacted various laws to clean the air. Enforcement of the laws has seen significance reduction in pollution levels especially in carbon dioxide, lead emissions, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions. Visalia-Porterville with PM10, ug/m3 pollution of 33 micrograms per cubic meter is ranked position 17. Other cities are Hanford-Corcoran and Portola Plumaa.

Air Pollution in Jamaica

Jamaica has only four cities with the worst one being Portmore at PM10, ug/m3 pollution with 54 micrograms per cubic meter on average. Other Jamaican cities are Kingston, Vere Plains Clarendon and Old Harbor Plains, St. Catherine.

Air Pollution in Canada

In Canada, the quality of air is regulated by a body known as Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, which ensures high standards are maintained. Courtenay, the only city from Canada featuring among the top thirty cities, ranked at position 22 with PM10, ug/m3 pollution of 30 micrograms per cubic meter.

Negative Effects of Air Pollution

Poor air quality air is associated with many negative health issues such as pulmonary and cardiac effects. Though air pollution is not evidently visible, its effects are adverse. The impact of pollution is aggravated by unfavorable meteorological and topographic conditions. Short-term effects of polluted air are itchy eyes, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, headache, upper respiratory irritation, nausea, coughing, and the development of allergies. Long-term impacts include the development of lung cancer, cardiovascular ailments, chronic respiratory diseases, and in extreme cases heart attack and stroke. It is evident that the quality of air is an issue both in the urban and rural areas.

Cities With The Worst Air Quality In North America

RankCity/TownCountryAverage mean PM10, ug/m3
3San SalvadorEl Salvador77
12HerediaCosta Rica47
13Mexico cityMexico42
14Vere Plains ClarendonJamaica42
16Old Harbour Plains, St. CatherineJamaica34
17Visalia-PortervilleUnited States of America33
20BelénCosta Rica31
21Hanford-CorcoranUnited States of America30
23Portola, PlumaaUnited States of America29
24AlajuelaCosta Rica28
25FresnoUnited States of America28
26Elkhart-GoshenUnited States of America28
27CartagoCosta Rica27
28San JoséCosta Rica27
29MaderaUnited States of America26
30South Eastern ManchesterJamaica25

More in Environment