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Posted at 08:18 AM ET, 11/17/2011

D.C. ranked among 20 dirtiest cities in America

“Good thing for D.C. residents that political hot air doesn’t contribute to asthma,” Forbes noted in its report of the dirtiest metro areas. (Andrew Harrer - Bloomberg)
The Washington area is among the top 20 dirtiest regions in the U.S., according to a new study, but there’s a silver lining in the smog cloud overhead: It could be worse.

Forbes ranked Washington/Baltimore/Northern Virginia 16th out of the 20 most polluted metro areas in America.

With a population of about 8.4 million, the region received an ozone pollution rank of 14. (In this case, the higher the ranking, the better.)

Bakersfield, Calif., which took first place in this less than illustrious list, has a population of about 800,000 and an ozone pollution rank of 2.

“Hot, dusty and surrounded by California’s biggest oil fields, Bakersfield has all the ingredients for the worst air in the nation,” according to Forbes.

Forbes used the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2011 report to tabulate the rankings, which took into account each region’s population, ozone pollution level and the number of days when the air is deemed unfit to breathe.

Forbes reports that half the U.S. population lives in places where the air is sometimes unfit to breathe, due in large part to “lots of people and too many cars.”

By  |  08:18 AM ET, 11/17/2011

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