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Environ Res. 2003 Mar;91(3):163-71.

Public views on the links between air pollution and health in Northeast England.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, The Medical School, NE2 4HH, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


We investigated how public perceptions of the links between air pollution and health varied with contextual factors describing individuals and their locality. Information was collected via postal surveys on 2744 adults resident in five neighborhoods in Northeast England. Perceptions were compared by individual factors (health status, age, and gender) and locality factors (relative deprivation, proximity to industry and district-Teesside or Sunderland, with different amounts of heavy industry). There was relatively little variation in views about air pollution and health links between neighborhoods. The greatest contrasts were found when comparing those living near or further from industry and between the two districts. Any differences were related more to awareness of illness in the neighborhood thought to be affected by air pollution, rather than belief that a particular disease was linked to air pollution. Chronic illness status and age were sometimes found to be associated with perceptions of disease affected by air pollution, but gender and material deprivation were not central to differences in risk perceptions among the population studied. In understanding public perceptions about the links between air quality and health, research should focus on the characteristics of places as well as of people.

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