A survey to understand the public’s awareness about air pollution

July 13, 2022

A quarterly survey has found what people in the UK think about the health effects of air pollution and what are the best practices to mitigate it.

The public’s opinion

Every third Thursday of June, people in the UK have the chance to celebrate Clean Air Day, the largest air pollution campaign in the country.  It is an event that brings together people from business, education and the health sector to create awareness on the effects of outdoors and indoors air pollution, as well as what practices can be applied to mitigate it. This year it will be celebrated on Thursday 17.

This event is organized by Global Action Plan, an NGO headquartered in the UK that aims at creating behavioral change concerning our sustainability practices. They believe that small changes done everyday will make a big difference in the long-term, an ethos that perhaps more of us should adopt and which, somewhat, echoes that famous line spoken by T. E. Lawrence: Big things have small beginnings.

Among the many other things GAP has done to encourage behavioral change, is a survey that was first conducted back in March of 2019. It is called Clean Air Public Insight Tracker, or CAPIT for short, and it was the first survey of its kind conducted all around the UK to try and understand the general perception towards air pollution. It is a robust series of questions concerning pollutants and healthy habits, and it is an essential database for anyone who wants to understand the general opinion about these and other issues around the UK. It is also a quarterly, so new data is being generated and released for free. If you are interested, you can consult all of their databases here.

What have these surveys found?

To conduct them, a group of 2000 people are asked a series of questions. These people are distributed through various geographic zones and divided by age, sex and ethnicity groups, so the data pool is diverse and reflects the UK’s general population makeup. Whereas the March 2019 edition of the survey included a series of questions that were specific about air pollution, further editions of CAPIT included queries about Covid-19.

The March 2021 edition was special, as it considered that the UK was still in lockdown, that England and Scotland had already outlined plans to ease restrictions, and that over 22 million adults had already received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccines. On this note, it was found that nine in ten parents (91%) worry about how this virus will, or could, affect their children’s health, while 86% of parents worried about the health effects of air pollution on their children’s life.

Children’s rights had greater importance in the aforementioned edition of CAPIT. Four out of five people (81%) believe that children have the right for cleaner air. Even above freedom of expression (63%), religion (72%) and privacy (61%), which are all of equal importance in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but seem to have taken a back seat in regards to the quality of air.

Even though there was a high general sentiment about the importance of fresh and clean air (57% of UK adults were concerned about the impact of air pollution on their health), practices conductive to it were not popular on the March 2021 survey.  Only one in three people (32%) want to have more green spaces, while 28% asked for more spaces for walking and cycling. However, 50% agreed that if they were allowed to continue remote working, this would greatly reduce their car use and, thus, reduce the emissions of dangerous air pollutants like Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), as well as particles of other toxic contaminants within the PM 2,5 range.

CAPIT’s December 2021 edition

Closer to our present date, the numbers found in this survey are of interest, because they show how public perception evolved throughout the previous year. 45% of the population agreed that an improvement of air quality should be a major priority, just as much as an increase in recycling practices. 55% of the people polled are concerned about the long-term impacts of air pollution on their health.

But despite this, some numbers are strange. Even contradictory, and perhaps show that more awareness needs to be generated among us. For example, while a shockingly low 17% agree that outdoors air majorly impacts their health, an even lower 11% believe that indoors air is a greater threat to their health. The truth is that the latter is more factual than the former, as we spend the majority of our lives indoors. Percentages change from country to country, but, on average, people in the UK spend 90% of their time indoors, which makes sense: we work and live inside closed doors spaces, while public transport and its infrastructure (underground railways and bus stations) are also closed environments.

Even though the impact of outdoors air on our health shouldn’t be downplayed, we should be more worried about concentrations of indoor air pollutants. Our offices and homes are not naturally pristine. They both generate their own air pollution and accumulate many of the pockets of bad outdoors air that find a way in. 61% of the people believe that opening a window is the best way to reduce indoor contamination, a practice that we agree has some merits, but also understand that is not the perfect solution. It has been found that passive ventilation (that is, any means to ventilate a space that does not use mechanical systems) is not enough to properly filter out some of the major contaminants behind air pollution indoors, especially Nitrogen Dioxide.

What we at AIR8 can do about this

The data obtained by Global Action Plan is important, because it allows us a glimpse into the general population’s opinion about air pollution. However, we cannot say that we are excited about some of these numbers: they clearly show that many people don’t give indoor air pollution the proper recognition it plays against our health. It is a major problem that each of us can deal with, as long as we have the right tools.

At AIR8 we have developed a range of air filtering products that use medical-grade High Efficiency Particulate Air technology, of HEPA for short. Ours is the best line of defense against emissions of Nitrogen Dioxide, dangerous accumulations of mold, radon, pollen, aerosols and other biological and chemical pollutants, as well as particles in the PM 2,5 range. Covid-19, along with other kinds of viruses, can be filtered out by our products.

Because we use HEPA-13 technology in our products, they can filter out 99,97% of all contaminants hanging from the air at any office or workspace. They do so thanks to the various stages of pre-filtering and filtering that compose them, such as Activated Carbon, Ioniser and Cold Catalyst. Their energy consumption is low and noise is almost non-existent.

We believe that all of us have the right to conduct our businesses in Safe Air Spaces, and that is why we use only the top quality engineering in the manufacture of our products. They all have undergone through intensive TÜV tests, and proudly carry the CE marking that testifies our commitment to the best environmental and health practices encouraged by the European Commission. It is good that public awareness about indoor air pollution is growing, but your business deserves more than just awareness. It deserves the best protection in the market.