Faculty of Natural Sciences
By better understanding how air pollution impacts those most vulnerable in their day to day lives and how they practically manage this, we can work towards creating more effective communications and advice aimed at encouraging behaviour change.
One woman was advised by her GP that her health would only improve if she moved house while another said if air quality is poor, she does not go out.
Another participant from Glasgow said she consciously walks quickly through Charing Cross, which is next to the busy M8 motorway, while another woman said she closes every window in her house if traffic is heavy outside.
The new study comes after previous research by the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Natural Sciences found that better air quality monitoring is needed to assess the acute impacts of air pollution on people with asthma.
PhD researcher Amy McCarron who led both studies said: “While the physiological connections between air pollution and asthma have been extensively studied, this study sought to explore the nuanced perspectives, daily experiences and management strategies of individuals.
“This research offers a greater understanding of the challenges faced by at-risk groups, such as individuals with asthma, in managing their condition relating to air pollution exposure.”
Previous research has found that current advice often proves ineffective in promoting behavioural change to minimise personal exposure, as it tends to be generic and overlooks individual circumstances and past experiences.
Ms McCarron said “By better understanding how air pollution impacts those most vulnerable in their day to day lives and how they practically manage this, we can work towards creating more effective communications and advice aimed at encouraging behaviour change, taking into account these experiences.
“In turn, this could encourage greater uptake of behaviour change, ultimately reducing personal exposure to air pollution.”
Researchers interviewed 36 non-smoking adults living in Scotland who been diagnosed with asthma by a healthcare professional. Interviews took place between September 2021 and September 2022.
The paper “I have to stay inside …”: Experiences of air pollution for people with asthma was published in the journal Health and Place.
It was funded by NERC IAPETUS2 and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.