America’s Dirtiest Cities — Where Does Atlanta Rank?

ATLANTA, GA — It’s no New York City. But Atlanta still ended up somewhere around the middle of the pack in a recent survey of the dirtiest cities in the United States.

Atlanta landed at No. 13 out of 40 U.S. cities ranked by cleaning-services company Busy Bee. The company ranked 40 urban areas across the country based on pest and litter data from the American Housing Survey, air pollution data from the Environmental Protection Agency and population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

New York City earned a highest-in-the-nation score of 427.9 on Busy Bee’s “dirtiness index.” Los Angeles, Riverside-San Bernadino, California, Chicago and Philadelphia rounded out the Top 5. At No. 13, Atlanta landed right behind Washington D.C. and just ahead of Boston on the list.

“Plenty of people are drawn to cities because they offer job opportunities, cultural diversity, plentiful entertainment, optimum medical care, public transportation, a vibrant nightlife, and more … ,” Busy Bee said in its report. “Of course, it’s not always a party. City life means traffic, crowds, litter, noise, pests, and lack of space. Factories and high concentrations of vehicles can lead to air pollution that can trigger a large variety of side effects.”

Out of five categories used to determine the city scores, Atlanta only landed in the top five in one — pests. Atlanta was ranked No. 5 in terms of unwelcome critters, behind New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Miami.

The other categories were litter, particulate matter air pollution, nitrogen dioxide air pollution and population density.

Here’s Busy Bee’s full ranking of America’s dirtiest cities with their respective “dirtiness index” score. You can also see them on a map here.

  1. New York City, 427.9
  2. Los Angeles, 317.8
  3. Riverside-San Bernardino, California, 224.89
  4. Chicago, 220.9
  5. Philadelphia, 212.97
  6. Phoenix, 206.93
  7. Houston, 203.39
  8. Denver, 193.51
  9. San Francisco, 189.03
  10. Miami, 187.27
  11. Pittsburgh, 185.55
  12. Washington, D.C., 179.47
  13. Atlanta, 178.63
  14. Boston, 177.76
  15. Baltimore, 176.61
  16. Austin, Texas, 175.96
  17. Detroit, 171
  18. Las Vegas, 163.53
  19. Cincinnati, 161.75
  20. Dallas, 158.18
  21. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, 155.26
  22. Cleveland, 148.91
  23. Hartford, Connecticut, 148.85
  24. Milwaukee, 145.98
  25. Seattle, 139.22
  26. Nashville, Tennessee 141.88
  27. Louisville, Kentucky, 130.38
  28. San Antonio, 127.6
  29. Kansas City, 127.03
  30. Richmond, Virginia, 122.48
  31. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida, 121.78
  32. Portland, Oregon, 121.54
  33. Rochester, New York, 120.21
  34. New Orleans, 117.13
  35. Oklahoma City, 116.99
  36. Memphis, Tennessee, 110.52
  37. Raleigh, North Carolina, 109.35
  38. Tucson, Arizona, 108.71
  39. Orlando, Florida, 103.43
  40. Jacksonville, Florida, 99.52
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Trash bags are piled up in New York City in April 2015. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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