Public attitudes to air pollution from road vehicles

PhD thesis

Williams, I. 1994. Public attitudes to air pollution from road vehicles. PhD thesis Middlesex University Urban Pollution Research Centre
TypePhD thesis
TitlePublic attitudes to air pollution from road vehicles
AuthorsWilliams, I.

An assessment of the environmental effects of any new road scheme is currently recommended by the Department of Transport, but the existing appraisal does not include an evaluation of public nuisance from vehicle-derived air pollution. This research project has investigated the subjective nuisance effects of air pollution from road traffic on the public through the simultaneous measurement of public attitudes towards vehicle-generated nuisance and air quality in residential and commercial areas.
Roadside pollutant concentrations were monitored during four London-based surveys involving the measurement of CO, NOx, gaseous hydrocarbons, SO₂, O₃, carbonyl compounds, smoke and total suspended particulates. At these roadside locations, traffic flow and classification data
were collected together with local and regional meteorological data. To extend the database, air quality data was collected from five other cities within the UK. These data were obtained
from the relevant local authority monitoring sites and/or DoE Enhanced Urban Network sites.
Monitored air pollutant concentrations were found to be similar to those recorded previously at comparable sites. At the roadside locations, the air quality according to the DoE's public information criteria was typically 'very good' for SO₂and O₃, but sometimes 'poor' for NO₂. At the urban background locations, air quality was generally very good. Positive and significant correlations were recorded between the major vehicular primary pollutants of CO, NO and NMHC and traffic flow at all sites. NO₂/NOx ratios were lower at the commercial locations than at the residential locations, reflecting the lack of available O₃ for NO-NO₂ conversion.
Roadside black smoke concentrations were much higher than those typically recorded at rooftop level in the UK, probably indicating the strong influence of diesel vehicle emissions and/or the extreme 'blackness' of diesel particles, and suggesting that the 8-Port technique may overestimate
roadside black smoke concentrations.
Social surveys, utilising questionnaires developed especially for this research, were performed to assess the causes, extent and magnitude of public nuisance from vehicle-derived air pollution at each of the pollutant monitoring sites. The survey data indicates the high relative importance of air pollution from road traffic when compared to other social issues, indicating that concern for the environment is now an established social issue rather than a transient preoccupation.
Local environmental issues were generally of relatively low priority, although traffic-related nuisances were very important local environmental nuisances. Indoors, noise from road traffic
was the most important vehicle-derived disturbance with the major concerns relating to the soiling of surfaces and the malodour of fumes. Outdoors, disturbance from smoke, fumes and odour was the most frequently complained about traffic-induced nuisance, with danger ranking equally highly. Most respondents were concerned about the effects of fumes upon their health, with adverse effects widely assumed. Significant differences in disturbance between sites in the
same and different cities, between females and males and between different age groups were recorded. No significant differences in annoyance were noted between smokers/non-smokers and different socio-economic groupings.
At each location, pollutant concentrations are discussed and the results of the social surveys are presented and interpreted. The relationships between nuisance and pollutant concentrations are examined graphically and a mathematical relationship between black smoke concentrations and
disturbance score is produced. This relationship is not considered to be sufficiently accurate for predictive purposes and an alternative method for estimating nuisance is proposed.

Department nameUrban Pollution Research Centre
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print13 Jan 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited13 Jan 2015
CompletedDec 1994
Output statusPublished
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