Oregon's Air Crisis: Unveiling the Nation's Most Polluted Small Towns

Growing up in a mill town like Lewiston Idaho, I know a thing or two about air pollution. I grew up in a town with poor air quality.

Bakersfield California Ranks As The #1 Place With Worst Air Quality In Nation

I'm surprised that two Oregon small towns have the worst air quality in the nation considering that you always think of Oregon as being environmentally aware and progressive but a new survey paints a different picture.

According to the American Lung Association's latest State of the Air report, two small towns in Oregon, Eugene-Springfield and Medford-Grants Pass, have been identified as having some of the worst air quality in the nation.

I'll delve into why two Oregon towns are facing such alarming levels of particle pollution.


The primary sources of particle pollution in Eugene-Springfield and Medford-Grants Pass include industrial activities, power plants, and emissions from diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles.

Additionally, wildfires, wood stoves, and fireplaces contribute to the high levels of particle pollution in these areas.

The combination of these factors has resulted in air quality that exceeds the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) baseline of 9 µg/m3.

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Exposure to high levels of particle pollution can lead to a range of health issues, including respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, and even premature death.


The American Lung Association estimates that nearly 48,000 premature deaths occur each year in the United States due to particle pollution.

Bakersfield, California tops the list with an average particle pollution level of 18.8 µg/m3. Following closely behind are Eugene-Springfield at 14.7 µg/m3 and Medford-Grants Pass at 13.5 µg/m3.

Interestingly enough, Yakima Washington ranks #12 on the list of the American Heart Association's most polluted cities for short-term particle pollution.

You can read more from the report here.

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