11 U.S. Cities With the Worst Air Pollution

The good news: Air has gotten cleaner in recent years. Now the bad: More than half of people in the U.S. still breathe air dirty enough to cause health problems, according to the American Lung Association.

Credit: Corbis

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Fresno, Calif.

Population: 1,063,899

"Fresno shares much of the same story," says Dr. Samet, pointing particularly to the trifecta of traffic, sunshine, and agriculture.

The ALA says there is growing evidence that breathing pollution near busy roads may not only worsen diseases over time, but also increase the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and COPD.

This region of the San Joaquin Valley, which includes Madera, ranks among the worst for ozone and short-term particle pollution—fourth and second spots, respectively.

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