I’ve often said that New Jersey makes the top of the list in so many different categories. Unfortunately, we usually top the list for all the stuff that states DON’T want, as opposed to the good stuff.

Among our dubious achievements comes the distinction of having one of the dirtiest cities in the country. Of the top dirtiest cities in the country, of course, one in New Jersey would be included and that is Newark.


This report, by lawnstarter.com, calls Newark the second dirtiest town in the country on a list of the top 150 filthy towns.

I’m almost angry about this because it’s such a cliché. Ask any non-New Jerseyan who knows absolutely nothing about New Jersey to name a dirty New Jersey town and they will probably think of the name Newark. You would’ve thought that having this reputation would’ve had the town elders doing their best to clean it up. But not so. Except for Houston, Texas, Newark is known for its filth more than any other of the towns included in this survey.

The survey ranked 150 of the biggest U.S. cities across four categories, including pollution, living conditions, infrastructure, and consumer satisfaction.

Some of the characteristics taken into consideration for pollution were the median air quality index, greenhouse gas emissions per capita, percentage of smokers and annual excess fuel consumption.

In the category of living conditions, they measured things such as number of homes with mold, number of homes with evidence of mice or rats and population density, which, as you know, is a slam dunk for us here in New Jersey since we’re the most densely populated state in the US.

Other metrics were tons of waste in landfills per 100,000 and residents’ satisfaction with things like pollution and garbage disposal.

And the numbers were clear. (Unlike, apparently, Newark’s air and water.)

But I digress.

air pollution from dirty and aged vehicle exhaust pipe on road

During the pandemic, lockdowns helped clean our air and water, but according to this report pollution is even worse in many urban areas and U.S. emissions are back up to pre-pandemic levels.

It looks like Newark has a lot of work to do if they want to finally bust the negative stereotype of their city.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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