McCarron A, Semple S, Braban CF, Swanson V, Gillespie C & Price HD (2022) Public engagement with air quality data: using health behaviour change theory to support exposure-minimising behaviours. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-022-00449-2
Exposure to air pollution prematurely kills 7 million people globally every year. Policy measures designed to reduce emissions of pollutants, improve ambient air and consequently reduce health impacts, can be effective, but are generally slow to generate change. Individual actions can therefore supplement policy measures and more immediately reduce people’s exposure to air pollution. Air quality indices (AQI) are used globally (though not universally) to translate complex air quality data into a single unitless metric, which can be paired with advice to encourage behaviour change. Here we explore, with reference to health behaviour theories, why these are frequently insufficient to instigate individual change. We examine the health behaviour theoretical steps linking air quality data with reduced air pollution exposure and (consequently) improved public health, arguing that a combination of more ‘personalised’ air quality data and greater public engagement with these data will together better support individual action. Based on this, we present a novel framework, which, when used to shape air quality interventions, has the potential to yield more effective and sustainable interventions to reduce individual exposures and thus reduce the global public health burden of air pollution.
Air pollution; Personal exposure; Health studies; Behaviour change
Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online
Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology