Discover the Kansas City Experts Rank as the State’s #1 Dirtiest

Discover the Kansas City Experts Rank as the State's #1 Dirtiest
© Color Vectors, djvstock/ via

Written by Telea Dodge

Published: February 6, 2024

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We all have concerns about the cleanliness of our cities, regions, states, countries, and world. Experts rank the cleanliness (or dirtiness) of cities around the United States based on a variety of factors. This helps people decide where they want to live, how to get involved in improving the cleanliness of their cities, and be knowledgeable about what factors contribute to the overall cleanliness and pollution of their homes. Pollution and contamination play an essential role in the health, lifespan, and livelihoods for people and animals. Today, we’ll look at the dirtiest city in Kansas. We’ll explore how we ranked it, how it stacks up against other cities, and what impact this has on residents. Before we tell you what Kansas City is the dirtiest, let’s look at the factors we considered while ranking it.

What Makes a City Dirty?

Draining sewage from pipe into river, pollution rivers and ecology

There are several factors involved in ranking the cleanliness of a city.

©Dmitriy Prayzel/

We used LawnStarter to help find the ranking for the dirtiest city in Kansas. Lawnstarter bases its rankings on a scoring system that includes a number of factors. Here are the factors that were considered when the site composed a list of the top 152 dirties cities in America.


Pollution in this study was measured by observing a variety of metrics.

  • Presence and number of Water Quality Violations.
  • Median Air Quality Index (AQI).
  • Greenhouse gas emissions per capita (measured in metric tons CO2e).
  • Annual excess fuel consumption (measured in gallons per auto commuter).
  • Percentage of smokers.

Living Conditions

A number of factors contribute to the statistic for good or bad living conditions. Cities often experience worse overall living conditions because of a higher population. Here are the factors that LawnStarter considered.

  • Share of overcrowded homes.
  • Population density (measured in residents per square mile).
  • Share of homes with mold.
  • Share of homes with no kitchen facilities.
  • Share of homes with signs of mice or rats.
  • Share of homes with signs of cockroaches.
  • Unsheltered homeless rate (per 1,000 residents)
  • Share of homes with no plumbing facilities.


Infrastructure is critical for the evaluation of a city. Cities that lack proper waste management infrastructure or ethical disposal and recycling standards will rank worse in this category.

  • Alternative fuel stations (measured per 100,000 residents).
  • Number of junk yards.
  • Tons of waste in landfills (measured per 100,000 residents).
  • Rating of state waste regulations of measures.
  • Refuse and recycling collectors per 100,000 residents.

Consumer Satisfaction

This category is imperative but certainly more subjective, since it is based on the opinions of residents. These opinions may be based in fact, fiction, bias, and experience. The category paints a realistic picture of resident satisfaction or dissatisfaction but is not always based in reality.

  • Share of residents dissatisfied with pollution.
  • Share of residents who find their city dirty and/or untidy.
  • Share of residents dissatisfied with greenery and parks.
  • Share of residents dissatisfied with garbage disposal.

Dirtiest City in Kansas

Strawberry Hill Sunset

Kansas City, Kansas, is often overshadowed by its famous neighbor – Kansas City, Missouri. This photo highlights aspects of both cities in a skyline sunset view shot from Strawberry Hill in Kansas.

©Matthew Endersbe/iStock via Getty Images

The dirtiest city in Kansas is Kansas City, Kansas. Additionally, the city was ranked as the 45th-dirtiest city (out of 152 ranked cities) in the United States in 2023. Cities that share similar pollution levels include Long Beach, California (43rd-dirtiest), Springfield, Missouri (46th-dirtiest), and Scottsdale, Arizona (48th-dirtiest). Kansas City is the third-most populated city in the state, with a population of 154,545 residents (2021 census data). This is not the first time KCK has made the “Dirtiest Cities” list. According to 24/7 Wall St., LawnStarter ranked it as the 28th-dirtiest city in the United States in 2022.

This seems to be heartening news. Local groups and national authorities have invested time, money, and energy into cleaning up the city.

Impacts to Residents and Wildlife

Oil in water Pollution

Pollution impacts people and nature in a variety of ways.

©Denise Hasse/iStock via Getty Images

The dirtiest cities in the world also suffer the highest environmental health risks. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 7 million premature deaths occur yearly as a result of air pollution. Ambient outdoor air pollution results in heart disease, lung cancer, strokes, and chronic respiratory conditions. For animals, the effects are equally – and sometimes more – severe. Pollution of air, water, and land results in illness, cancer, and habitat destruction. The National Wildlife Federation states that a variety of pollution factors endanger local wildlife. Pollution inhibits plant growth, lowers reproductive rates, and slows the imperative motor functions of many animals.

Pollution is a serious issue for all life on this planet. Experts are not ranking the dirtiest cities for fun – this research deeply matters. By using factual data to observe the changes in our climate, we can find ways to reduce the problem. Knowledge is power, and Kansas City, Kansas has a unique opportunity to use this information to address imperative environmental issues. Education is the first step – action is the next.

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About the Author

Telea Dodge is an animal enthusiast and nature fiend with a particular interest in teaching a sense of community and compassion through interactions with the world at large. Carrying a passion for wild foraging, animal behaviorism, traveling, and music, Telea spends their free time practicing their hobbies while exploring with their companion dog, Spectre.

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