The Alabama Town with the Worst Air Quality

Weather, industrial and transportation activity, and other air pollution sources affect Alabama’s air quality. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) monitors air quality and enforces regulations to protect public health and reduce harmful emissions.

Industrial and traffic-heavy Alabama cities have suffered considerable air pollution. Due to stricter rules and pollution reductions, Alabama’s air quality has improved recently.

The constantly updated Alabama Air Quality Index (AQI) provides real-time air quality data. This article explores Alabama’s worst air quality town.

Alabama’s Worst Air Quality Town

Due to high particulate matter and ground-level ozone levels, Birmingham has the poorest air quality in Alabama, according to several sources. Air quality can change over time and be affected by many variables, so check the latest air quality data and take precautions to safeguard your health.

Air Quality History in Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama has had a turbulent air quality history. The city was a steel, mining, and manufacturing hub for most of the 20th century. The air quality was constantly bad, with high sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter levels.

Birmingham cleaned up its air throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The Alabama Air Pollution Control Commission was founded in 1971, and the city became a Clean Air Act sulfur dioxide nonattainment region in 1977. The city has to limit sulfur dioxide emissions due to this categorization.

Within decades, the city implemented new policies and technologies to minimize emissions and enhance air quality. In the 1990s and 2000s, several big industrial facilities closed, reducing city air pollution.

Birmingham’s air pollution persists despite these attempts. According to the American Lung Association’s 2020 State of the Air report, Birmingham has the 14th highest year-round particle pollution in the US. The city is also a Clean Air Act ozone nonattainment region.

Air quality in Birmingham, Alabama is poor. Why?

Multiple reasons cause poor air quality in Birmingham, Alabama. This includes:

  • Heavy industry: Birmingham has traditionally produced iron, steel, coal, and power. These activities emit huge volumes of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.
  • Birmingham’s many cars and trucks contribute to air pollution through exhaust emissions.
  • The city sits in a valley surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, which trap air pollutants and worsen air pollution.
  • Weather patterns: Birmingham often has temperature inversions, which trap pollutants near the ground and make dispersion difficult.
  • flames: City flames can generate enormous amounts of smoke and particulate matter, worsening air quality.

Where is Birmingham, Alabama on the map?

Birmingham is in north-central Alabama. It is the seat of Jefferson County, the most populated in the state. Birmingham is called “the magic city” because it is the only place with soil that has limestone, coal, and iron ore.

Which measures are being taken to improve air quality?

Birmingham, Alabama is improving air quality with several measures:

  • The creation of a city center Clean Air Zone (CAZ) that charges the dirtiest cars to enter.
  • Replacing polluted buses with low-emission ones.
  • Promoting biking and walking as alternatives.
  • Electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city.
  • Creating a city hydrogen refueling station to promote fuel cell technology.
  • Implementing an air quality monitoring system to understand municipal pollution sources and levels.
  • The citywide Clean Air Fund funds air quality improvement projects.
  • The planting of trees and green infrastructure to absorb pollutants and minimize emissions.
  • The West Midlands Metro and city-to-outside train services are promoted.
  • Working with companies to minimize industrial emissions and promote sustainability.

Alabama Air Quality: How Does It Compare to Other States?

The American Lung Association’s newest survey found Alabama’s air quality to be bad. Three Alabama metro areas were among the 25 most polluted in the State of the Air 2020 report: Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, and Mobile-Daphne-Fairhope.

Alabama’s urban areas had the 12th worst ozone pollution and the 14th worst particle pollution. High pollution levels can cause asthma, lung cancer, and other health issues. Air pollution must be reduced in Alabama and other states to ensure public health.


Birmingham, Alabama, has historically struggled with poor air quality, primarily due to heavy industry, vehicular emissions, geographical factors, and weather patterns. Continued initiatives, such as clean air zones and sustainable transportation, aim to enhance Birmingham’s air quality and protect public health.

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