This Is the Dirtiest State in the U.S.

Some states have clean water and clear skies—and others are basically all landfills.

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Some states are known for their healthy air quality (good job, Alaska), others are hailed for their environmental friendliness (hey there, Vermont), and a few choice states—well, one in particular—is known for its crystal clear waters (we're looking at you, Hawaii). But the truth is, every person in every state produces waste; it's just that some of us create a lot more than others. You may know about the tragic water crisis in cities like Flint, Michigan, or assume densely populated states like Delaware are filled with pollution, but there are a lot of factors that go into figuring out how clean or dirty a state is. So we crunched the numbers to determine which state in the U.S. is the absolute dirtiest.

We dug into data from a number of sources to get the full picture of a particular state's cleanliness, including its air quality, landfill use, and the volume of garbage and toxins it produces. This included a number of eye-opening stats from the Environmental Protection Agency's Landfill Methane Outreach Program and Landfill Gas Energy Project Database, as well as the U.S. Census. We factored in how many tons of trash a state has buried per capita, as well as how much new waste it is producing per year (also in tons) and what percentage of a state's total landmass is dedicated to landfills. We also took into account the "dirtiness" of the state's air, drawing on the amount of carbon dioxide it produces (in million metric tons) according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as well as each state's air pollution ranking, according to the United Health Foundation. Together, we put these numbers through our exclusive algorithm to determine the Dirty State Index score for each state.

Taking all of this data into account, there is one state that stands out from the rest for all the wrong reasons. The state produces 1.28 tons of new waste per capita and has 29 tons of trash buried within its borders. But what really puts this state at the top of the garbage pile is that it has the highest percentage of land dedicated to landfills. While 0.04 percent may not sound like much, that's double, triple, or even quadruple the amount of space compared to almost any other state. Its carbon dioxide emissions are also among the highest in the country and its air pollution score is abysmal, too. Let's just say, it's earned its nickname. Read on to discover the dirtiest state in the nation, and find out where your state falls as we rank all 50 states from cleanest to filthiest. And for more state superlatives to learn about, read up on The Unfriendliest State in the U.S.

50
South Dakota

overview of the badlands national park
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 14 million metric tons

Trash buried per capita: 21.4 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.66 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0007 percent

Air pollution level: 5.1 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 7.82

For better news for South Dakotans, see how they rank among The States Where You Can Make the Most Money.

49
Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho White Christmas in America
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 18 tons

Trash buried per capita: 19.7 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.03 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0008 percent

Air pollution level: 6.8 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 8.73

And if you're curious about a certain lakeside oasis in Idaho, find it among The Most Mispronounced Towns in the U.S.

48
Maine

portland head light lighthouse in maine
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 15 tons

Trash buried per capita: 21.9 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.29 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0013 percent

Air pollution level: 5.9 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 9.46

47
Montana

Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 30 tons

Trash buried per capita: 26 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.47 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0004 percent

Air pollution level: 6.6 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 10.19

Curious about which states lack some excitement? Here's The Most Boring State in the U.S.

46
Wyoming

Grand Tetons reflected in still water of the Snake River at Oxbow Bend
iStock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 61 tons

Trash buried per capita: 16.6 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.48 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0004 percent

Air pollution level: 5 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 10.34

And for particularly bright states like this one, check out The Smartest State in the U.S.

45
Vermont

Harbor on Lake Champlain
iStock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 6 tons

Trash buried per capita: 21.8 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.91 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0026 percent

Air pollution level: 5.1 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 10.47

44
North Dakota

North Dakota
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 56 tons

Trash buried per capita: 20.3 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.58 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0007 percent

Air pollution level: 4.6 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 10.94

And if you can't get enough state rankings and facts, get them sent straight to your inbox by signing up for our daily newsletter.

43
New Mexico

sunset over the wilderness
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 49 tons

Trash buried per capita: 33.3 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1 ton

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0013 percent

Air pollution level: 6 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 14.13

42
Oregon

Florenece Oregon USA on a sunny day.
iStock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 38 tons

Trash buried per capita: 37 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.64 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0019 percent

Air pollution level: 7.8 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 15.65

41
Utah

south jordan utah
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 58 tons

Trash buried per capita: 27.8 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.16 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0019 percent

Air pollution level: 8.4 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 15.82

40
Nebraska

lincoln nebraska
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 48 tons

Trash buried per capita: 37.6 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.83 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0016 percent

Air pollution level: 7.1 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 15.91

39
Nevada

Reno, happiest cities, drunkest cities, fittest cities, best singles scenes, worst drinking water
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 36 tons

Trash buried per capita: 45.7 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.67 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0016 percent

Air pollution level: 9 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 16.84

38
Minnesota

downtown minneapolis minnesota
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 88 tons

Trash buried per capita: 16.7 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.56 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0028 percent

Air pollution level: 6.6 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 17.17

37
Arkansas

Little Rock Arkansas skyline
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 64 tons

Trash buried per capita: 26 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.97 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0035 percent

Air pollution level: 7.1 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 18.19

36
Hawaii

Na Pali Coast Hawaii
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 18 tons

Trash buried per capita: 28.6 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.66 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0060 percent

Air pollution level: 5.4 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 18.29

35
Kansas

 field of wheat in central Kansas is nearly ready for harvest.
iStock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 58 tons

Trash buried per capita: 40.6 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.48 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0032 percent

Air pollution level: 7 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 19.76

34
Mississippi

biloxi lighthouse in mississippi
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 67 tons

Trash buried per capita: 35.3 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.2 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0035 percent

Air pollution level: 7.7 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 20.27

33
Washington

Washington state
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 78 tons

Trash buried per capita: 28.3 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.08 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0038 percent

Air pollution level: 8 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 20.58

32
Iowa

Iowa
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 76 tons

Trash buried per capita: 27.4 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.05 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0045 percent

Air pollution level: 7.1 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 21.12

31
Oklahoma

tulsa oklahoma skyline
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 93 tons

Trash buried per capita: 34.4 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.22 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0034 percent

Air pollution level: 8.2 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 22.29

30
Arizona

Antelope Canyon lights and rocks arizona
Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 86 tons

Trash buried per capita: 33.9 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.38 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0038 percent

Air pollution level: 9.7 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 22.84

29
New Hampshire

portsmouth new hampshire
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 13 tons

Trash buried per capita: 40.9 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 2.03 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0079 percent

Air pollution level: 4.4 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 23.21

28
Colorado

Denver, CO
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 87 tons

Trash buried per capita: 44.6 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 2.06 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0039 percent

Air pollution level: 6.7 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 24.10

27
Connecticut

hartford connecticut skyline
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 33 tons

Trash buried per capita: 8.7 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.41 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0111 percent

Air pollution level: 7.2 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 25.24

26
Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 122 tons

Trash buried per capita: 30.1 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.19 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0046 percent

Air pollution level: 7.5 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 25.75

25
West Virginia

Housing Congestion. Wheeling, West Virginia. Compressed houses in the foreground.
iStock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 91 tons

Trash buried per capita: 29.9 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.16 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0067 percent

Air pollution level: 7.6 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 26.65

24
Alaska

Denali National Park Alaska
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 34 tons

Trash buried per capita: 30.1 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.13 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0100 percent

Air pollution level: 6.4 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 27.03

23
Alabama

river with boats and boathouses in alabama
Jon Lovette / Alamy

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 108 tons

Trash buried per capita: 37.7 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.61 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0058 percent

Air pollution level: 8.1 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 28.19

22
Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin, USA downtown skyline at dusk on Lake Monona.
iStock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 98 tons

Trash buried per capita: 47 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.52 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0058 percent

Air pollution level: 6.8 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 28.44

21
South Carolina

charleston south carolina
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 69 tons

Trash buried per capita: 32.6 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.21 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0105 percent

Air pollution level: 7.4 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 31.55

20
Tennessee

Memphis Tennessee
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 98 tons

Trash buried per capita: 36.8 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.4 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0095 percent

Air pollution level: 7.4 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 33.07

19
Kentucky

georgetown kentucky

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 114 tons

Trash buried per capita: 43.9 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.75 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0086 percent

Air pollution level: 8.1 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 34.43

18
North Carolina

cary north carolina
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 115 tons

Trash buried per capita: 27.5 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.25 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0119 percent

Air pollution level: 7.2 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 36.82

17
Michigan

Detroit Aerial Panorama during sunset
iStock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 152 tons

Trash buried per capita: 62.4 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 2.27 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0079 percent

Air pollution level: 8 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 39.66

16
Georgia

Atlanta, happiest cities, drunkest cities, fittest cities, best singles scenes, best cities to buy a mansion, flip a house, rent, property
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 132 tons

Trash buried per capita: 33.7 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.67 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0122 percent

Air pollution level: 8.3 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 40.27

15
Virginia

richmond virginia skyline
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 98 tons

Trash buried per capita: 40.3 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.48 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0136 percent

Air pollution level: 6.9 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 40.34

14
Louisiana

monroe louisiana
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 226 tons

Trash buried per capita: 38.7 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.51 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0072 percent

Air pollution level: 7.9 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 40.42

13
New York

albany new york capital building
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 157 tons

Trash buried per capita: 24.5 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.9 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0146 percent

Air pollution level: 6.6 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 44.00

12
Massachusetts

Worcester, Massachusetts
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 63 tons

Trash buried per capita: 16.2 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.88 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0205 percent

Air pollution level: 6.3 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 44.51

11
Florida

st petersburg florida
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 227 tons

Trash buried per capita: 25.1 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.03 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0166 percent

Air pollution level: 7.4 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 53.58

10
Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 52 tons

Trash buried per capita: 20.9 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.66 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0263 percent

Air pollution level: 7.7 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 54.44

9
Illinois

Chicago
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 201 tons

Trash buried per capita: 52.4 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 2.03 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0160 percent

Air pollution level: 9.3 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 55.93

8
Ohio

Columbus Ohio American Cities Vacation Destinations
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 204 tons

Trash buried per capita: 48.8 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 2.04 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0165 percent

Air pollution level: 8.5 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 56.15

7
Indiana

indianapolis indiana
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 176 tons

Trash buried per capita: 56.1 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 2.35 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0174 percent

Air pollution level: 8.4 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 56.60

6
Pennsylvania

a road in jim thorpe pennsylvania
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 215 tons

Trash buried per capita: 52.3 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.73 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0191 percent

Air pollution level: 9.2 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 62.11

5
California

santa barbara california
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 359 tons

Trash buried per capita: 47.8 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.58 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0153 percent

Air pollution level: 12.8 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 68.18

4
Rhode Island

providence rhode island state capitol buildings
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 10 tons

Trash buried per capita: 37.2 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 0.91 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0375 percent

Air pollution level: 7.3 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 72.27

3
Delaware

Saturated early morning light hits the buildings and architecture of downtown Wilmington Delaware
iStock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 12 tons

Trash buried per capita: 33.7 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.31 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0399 percent

Air pollution level: 8.3 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 76.32

2
Texas

san antonio's beautiful nightlife at the river walk
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 707 tons

Trash buried per capita: 36.7 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.37 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0083 percent

Air pollution level: 8.3 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 82.09

1
New Jersey

Jersey City, New Jersey
Shutterstock

Carbon dioxide emissions produced: 101 tons

Trash buried per capita: 29 tons

New waste produced per capita annually: 1.28 tons

Percentage of state occupied by landfills: 0.0421 percent

Air pollution level: 8.1 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter

Dirty State Index: 86.54

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