New York is the Dirtiest City in America, New Report Finds

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Kristi Blokhin)

In the latest data-analytics news from Captain Obvious, one new report has quantifiably named New York City the dirtiest city in America — by far. Leading the top 40 cities in the U.S. on combined filth factors as collected by the EPA, the U.S. Census, and the American Housing Survey, the Big Apple was considered especially rotten for its above-and-beyond litter and rodent issues.

No doubt, in the most densely populated of places in the country — 11 million people crammed into a mere 300 square miles, as of 2016 — there would be a lot of ongoing refuse and related issues in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs.

But, according to a new report from cleaning and janitorial services company BusyBee, New York City absolutely blew away the cleanlier competition from other top metro areas by an astounding amount of litter, pests, and air pollution.

Click to enlarge (Image credit: Busy Bee Cleaning Service)

The infographic (above) compares and ranks the top 40 metro areas using an algorithm combining factors such as litter, pests (mice and cockroaches), population density, particulate matter air pollution, and nitrogen dioxide air pollution, from data collected by three major government agencies. The resulting rankings found that — in the #2 spot after NYC — Los Angeles and then other major American metros are only half as dirty as Manhattan, if even.

The top five cities in the US by population density (in order) were New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Miami, and Chicago — but the dirtiest cities (in order) were:

  1. New York City
  2. Los Angeles
  3. TIE: Chicago (for litter), Houston (for pests)
  4. TIE: Philadelphia (for litter), Miami (for pests)
  5. TIE: San Francisco (for litter), Atlanta (for pests)

As a native Bostonian, I’m calling a win on the #3 most densely populated city in the country only ranking in at #14 on the dirty-o-meter — especially compared to my (much smaller, more environmentally-conscious, and much more sprawling) newly adopted home of Austin, TX clocking in #16.

If this news reads as depressing to you, consider this inspiring angle: not all that litter ends up in the landfill, thanks to trash pickers — the most expert of which are New York Sanitation Department workers themselves. At one of the city’s garages in East Harlem, garbage collectors have amassed an unbelievable Treasures in the Trash museum warehouse created entirely out of found objects from their routes.

Elsewhere abroad, sanitation workers in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, have opened a public library comprised entirely of books found in the trash, according to CNN.