This Is the Dirtiest State in the U.S.

Some states are known for their healthy air quality (good job, Alaska), others for being environmentally friendly (hey there, Vermont), and a few select states - one in particular - are known for their crystal clear waters (we're looking at you, Hawaii). But the truth is that every person in every state produces waste; It's just that some of us can do a lot more than others. You may be familiar with the tragic water crisis in cities like Flint, Michigan, or assume that densely populated states like Delaware are filled with pollution, but there are many factors that determine how clean or dirty a state is. So we put the numbers together to see which state in the U.S. is the absolute dirtiest.
We examined data from a number of sources to get a complete picture of a given state's cleanliness, including air quality, landfill use, and the amount of trash and toxins it produces. This included a number of insightful statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency's landfill methane outreach program and landfill gas energy project database, as well as the US census. We took into account how many tons of garbage a country has buried per capita, how much new waste it produces per year (also in tons) and what percentage of the total land mass of a state is destined for landfill. We also took into account the "dirtiness" of the state's air, taking into account the amount of carbon dioxide (in millions of tons) according to the US Energy Information Administration, and each state's air pollution ranking according to the United States Health Foundation. Together we put these numbers through our exclusive algorithm to determine the Dirty State Index for each state.
With all this data in mind, there is one condition that stands out from the rest for the wrong reasons. The state produces 1.28 tons of new waste per capita and has buried 29 tons of trash within its borders. But what really puts this state at the top of the garbage heap is that it has the highest percentage of land for landfill. While 0.04 percent doesn't sound like much, the space requirement doubles, triples or quadruples compared to almost any other condition. Carbon dioxide emissions are also among the highest in the country, and air pollution is also abysmal. Let's just say it earned its nickname. Read on to discover the nation's dirtiest state and find out where your state lies as we rank all 50 states from cleanest to dirtiest. If you want to learn more about state superlatives, read The Most Unfriendly State in the US.
50
South Dakota
Overview of Badlands National Park
Carbon dioxide emissions: 14 million tons
Garbage buried per capita: 21.4 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 0.66 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0007 percent
Air pollution level: 5.1 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 7.82
For more news for South Dakotans, see the states where you can make the most money.
49
Idaho
Sun Valley, Idaho White Christmas America
Carbon dioxide emissions: 18 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 19.7 tons
Every year new waste is generated per capita: 1.03 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0008 percent
Air pollution level: 6.8 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 8.73
And if you're curious about a specific Idaho lakeside oasis, find it among the Most Mispronounced Cities in the United States.
48
Maine
Portland Headlight Lighthouse in Maine
Carbon dioxide emissions: 15 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 21.9 tons
Every year new waste is generated per capita: 1.29 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0013 percent
Air pollution level: 5.9 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 9.46
47
Montana
Carbon dioxide emissions: 30 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 26 tons
New waste is generated per capita every year: 1.47 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0004 percent
Air pollution level: 6.6 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 10.19
Curious which states are lacking in excitement? Here is the most boring state in the US.
46
Wyoming
Grand Tetons were reflected in the still waters of the Snake River at Oxbow Bend
Carbon dioxide emissions: 61 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 16.6 tons
New waste generated per capita annually: 0.48 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0004 percent
Air pollution: 5 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 10.34
And for particularly bright states like this one, check out The Smartest State in the US.
45
Vermont
Port on Lake Champlain
Carbon dioxide emissions: 6 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 21.8 tons
New waste generated per capita annually: 0.91 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0026 percent
Air pollution level: 5.1 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 10.47
44
North Dakota
North Dakota
Carbon dioxide emissions: 56 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 20.3 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 0.58 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0007 percent
Air pollution level: 4.6 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 10.94
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43
New Mexico
Sunset over the wilderness
Carbon dioxide emissions: 49 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 33.3 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 1 ton
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0013 percent
Air pollution: 6 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 14.13
42
Oregon
Florenece Oregon USA on a sunny day.
Carbon dioxide emissions: 38 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 37 tons
Every year new waste is generated per capita: 1.64 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0019 percent
Air pollution level: 7.8 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 15.65
41
Utah
South Jordan Utah
Carbon dioxide emissions: 58 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 27.8 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 1.16 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0019 percent
Air pollution level: 8.4 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 15.82
40
Nebraska
Lincoln Nebraska
Carbon dioxide emissions: 48 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 37.6 tons
Every year new waste is generated per capita: 1.83 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0016 percent
Air pollution level: 7.1 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 15.91
39
Nevada
Reno, happiest cities, drunkest cities, fittest cities, best single scenes, worst drinking water
Carbon dioxide emissions: 36 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 45.7 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 1.67 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0016 percent
Air pollution: 9 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 16.84
38
Minnesota
Downtown Minneapolis Minnesota
Carbon dioxide emissions: 88 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 16.7 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 0.56 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0028 percent
Air pollution level: 6.6 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 17.17
37
Arkansas
Little Rock Arkansas Skyline
Carbon dioxide emissions: 64 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 26 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 0.97 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0035 percent
Air pollution level: 7.1 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 18.19
36
Hawaii
Na Pali coast Hawaii
Carbon dioxide emissions: 18 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 28.6 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 0.66 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0060 percent
Air pollution level: 5.4 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 18.29
35
Kansas
The wheat field in central Kansas is almost ready for harvest.
Carbon dioxide emissions: 58 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 40.6 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 1.48 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0032 percent
Air pollution: 7 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 19.76
34
Mississippi
Biloxi Lighthouse in Mississippi
Carbon dioxide emissions: 67 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 35.3 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 1.2 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0035 percent
Air pollution level: 7.7 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 20.27
33
Washington
Washington
Carbon dioxide emissions: 78 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 28.3 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 1.08 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0038 percent
Air pollution: 8 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 20.58
32
Iowa
Iowa
Carbon dioxide emissions: 76 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 27.4 tons
New waste generated per capita annually: 1.05 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0045 percent
Air pollution level: 7.1 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 12/21
31
Oklahoma
Tulsa Oklahoma Skyline
Carbon dioxide emissions: 93 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 34.4 tons
New waste generated per capita annually: 1.22 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0034 percent
Air pollution level: 8.2 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 22.29
30th
Arizona
Antelope Canyon lights and rocks Arizona
Carbon dioxide emissions: 86 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 33.9 tons
New waste generated per capita annually: 1.38 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0038 percent
Air pollution level: 9.7 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 22.84
29
New Hampshire
Portsmouth New Hampshire
Carbon dioxide emissions: 13 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 40.9 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 2.03 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0079 percent
Air pollution level: 4.4 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 23.21
28
Colorado
Denver, CO
Carbon dioxide emissions: 87 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 44.6 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 2.06 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0039 percent
Air pollution level: 6.7 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 10/24
27
Connecticut
Hartford Connecticut Skyline
Carbon dioxide emissions: 33 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 8.7 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 0.41 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0111 percent
Air pollution level: 7.2 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 25.24
26th
Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
Carbon dioxide emissions: 122 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 30.1 tons
Every year new waste is generated per capita: 1.19 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0046 percent
Air pollution: 7.5 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 25.75
25th
West Virginia
Apartment congestion. Wheeling, West Virginia. Compressed houses in the foreground.
Carbon dioxide emissions: 91 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 29.9 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 1.16 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0067 percent
Air pollution level: 7.6 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 26.65
24
Alaska
Denali National Park Alaska
Carbon dioxide emissions: 34 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 30.1 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 1.13 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0100 percent
Air pollution level: 6.4 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 03/27
23
Alabama
River with boats and boathouses in Alabama
Carbon dioxide emissions: 108 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 37.7 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 1.61 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0058 percent
Air pollution level: 8.1 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 28.19
22nd
Wisconsin
Downtown Madison, Wisconsin, USA skyline at dusk on Lake Monona.
Carbon dioxide emissions: 98 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 47 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 1.52 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0058 percent
Air pollution level: 6.8 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 28.44
21st
South carolina
Charleston South Carolina
Carbon dioxide emissions: 69 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 32.6 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 1.21 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0105 percent
Air pollution level: 7.4 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 31.55
20th
Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Carbon dioxide emissions: 98 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 36.8 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 1.4 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0095 percent
Air pollution level: 7.4 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 33.07
19th
Kentucky
Georgetown Kentucky
Carbon dioxide emissions: 114 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 43.9 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 1.75 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0086 percent
Air pollution level: 8.1 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 34.43
18th
North Carolina
Cary North Carolina
Carbon dioxide emissions: 115 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 27.5 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 1.25 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0119 percent
Air pollution level: 7.2 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 36.82
17th
Michigan
Detroit Aerial Panorama during sunset
Carbon dioxide emissions: 152 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 62.4 tons
Every year new waste is generated per capita: 2.27 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0079 percent
Air pollution: 8 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 39.66
16
Georgia
Atlanta happiest cities, drunkest cities, fittest cities, best single scenes, best cities to buy a mansion, turn a house, rent, property
Carbon dioxide emissions: 132 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 33.7 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 1.67 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0122 percent
Air pollution level: 8.3 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 40.27
fifteen
Virginia
Richmond Virginia Skyline
Carbon dioxide emissions: 98 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 40.3 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 1.48 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0136 percent
Air pollution level: 6.9 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 40.34
14th
Louisiana
Monroe Louisiana
Carbon dioxide emissions: 226 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 38.7 tons
New waste generated per capita annually: 1.51 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0072 percent
Air pollution: 7.9 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 40.42
13th
new York
Albany New York capital building
Carbon dioxide emissions: 157 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 24.5 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 0.9 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0146 percent
Air pollution level: 6.6 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 44.00
12th
Massachusetts
Worcester, Massachusetts
Carbon dioxide emissions: 63 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 16.2 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 0.88 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0205 percent
Air pollution level: 6.3 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 44.51
11
Florida
St. Petersburg Florida
Carbon dioxide emissions: 227 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 25.1 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 1.03 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0166 percent
Air pollution level: 7.4 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 53.58
10
Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland
Carbon dioxide emissions: 52 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 20.9 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 0.66 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0263 percent
Air pollution level: 7.7 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 54.44
9
Illinois
Chicago
Carbon dioxide emissions: 201 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 52.4 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 2.03 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0160 percent
Air pollution level: 9.3 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 55.93
8th
Ohio
Columbus Ohio American Cities vacation destinations
Carbon dioxide emissions: 204 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 48.8 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 2.04 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0165 percent
Air pollution: 8.5 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 56.15
7th
Indiana
Indianapolis Indiana
Carbon dioxide emissions: 176 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 56.1 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 2.35 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0174 percent
Air pollution level: 8.4 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 56.60
6th
Pennsylvania
a street in jim thorpe pennsylvania
Carbon dioxide emissions: 215 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 52.3 tons
New waste generated per capita annually: 1.73 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0191 percent
Air pollution level: 9.2 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 62.11
5
California
Santa Barbara California
Carbon dioxide emissions: 359 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 47.8 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 1.58 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0153 percent
Air pollution level: 12.8 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 68.18
4th
Rhode Island
Providence Rhode Island State Capitol Building
Carbon dioxide emissions: 10 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 37.2 tons
New waste generated per capita annually: 0.91 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0375 percent
Air pollution level: 7.3 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 72.27
3
Delaware
Saturated early morning light hits the buildings and architecture of downtown Wilmington, Delaware
Carbon dioxide emissions: 12 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 33.7 tons
New waste generated per capita annually: 1.31 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0399 percent
Air pollution level: 8.3 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 76.32
2
Texas
San Antonio's beautiful nightlife by the river on foot
Carbon dioxide emissions: 707 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 36.7 tons
Every year new waste is produced per capita: 1.37 tons
Percentage of State Occupied by Landfill: 0.0083 percent
Air pollution level: 8.3 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 82.09
1
New Jersey
Jersey City, New Jersey
Carbon dioxide emissions: 101 tons
Garbage buried per capita: 29 tons
New waste generated annually per capita: 1.28 tons
Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0421 percent
Air pollution level: 8.1 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter
Dirty State Index: 86.54

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