Beaumont, R.A., Hamilton, R., Machin, N., Perks, J. and Williams, I. D.
Social awareness of air quality information
Science of Total Environment, 235, (1-3), . (doi:10.1016/S0048-9697(99)00215-6).
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In the UK, air quality information is made available through a range of media. However, limited attention has been paid to ensuring that the information is provided to the public in a format that is understandable and relevant to their needs. This research has begun the task of determining the nature and extent of public air quality requirements by performing a social survey (using a postal questionnaire) to provide a basic snapshot of the public’s views and by determining the views of information providers and interested professionals. The paper identifies the main shortcomings in current public air quality information provision. The social survey and workshop results demonstrate that current information provision and dissemination does not match public requirements; the depth and breadth of local information needs to be enhanced. Local authorities need to improve their co-ordination and collaboration, the role of the mass-media needs to be considered carefully, air quality needs to be better described and its implications for individuals spelled out and certain public groups need special consideration. In addition, local authorities need more guidance on communicating air quality, possibly through a best practice guide. Further research is required to identify the best descriptors for air quality, to improve the effectiveness of public advice during episodes of poor air quality and to use public air quality information to effect behavioral changes.
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