Subjective perception of air pollution can have important implications in terms of health-protective behaviours and citizen and stakeholder engagement in cleaner-air policies.
A recent study, conducted under the EUfunded PASTA project, has analysed the link between level of concern over health effects of air pollution and personal and environmental factors in seven European cities. Overall, 58% of participants were worried over health effects of air pollution, with large differences between cities. On a city scale, average levels of concern over health effects of air pollution had a good correlation with average Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels and a lower correlation with average PM2.5 levels. Individual level of concern was found to be linked to gender, having children in the household, levels of physical activity, and NO2 levels at the home address. These findings can be used to inform future policymaking.
2018 Study Abstract
Subjective perception of air pollution is important and can have impacts on health in its own rights, can lead to protective behaviour, or it can be leveraged to engage citizens and stakeholders in support of cleaner air policies. The aim of the current analysis was to examine associations between level of concern over health effects of air pollution and personal and environmental factors. In seven European cities, 7622 adult participants were recruited to complete an online questionnaire on travel and physical activity behaviour, perceptions and attitudes on active mobility and the environment, and sociodemographics. Air pollution at the home address was determined using Europe-wide PM2.5 and NO2 land use regression models. Mixed effects logistic regression was used to model concern over air pollution (worried versus not worried; city as random effect). Fifty-eight percent of participants were worried over health effects of air pollution with large differences across cities (Antwerp 78%, Barcelona 81%, London 64%, Orebro 11%, Rome 72%, Vienna 43%, Zurich 33%). Linking mean modelled air pollution to mean level of concern per city gave a good correlation for NO2 (r2 = 0.75), and a lower correlation for PM2.5 (r2 = 0.49). In the regression model, sex, having children in the household, levels of physical activity, and NO2 at the home address were significantly linked to individual concern over health effects of air pollution. We found that NO2 but not PM2.5 at the home address was associated with concern over health effects of air pollution.