Clean Air Together Dublin: impact on air quality awareness, attitudes and behaviour

This report has been peer reviewed prior to publication. The authors are solely responsible for the content and the views expressed.

October 17, 2023
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Clean Air Together (CAT) is a citizen science project where people voluntarily sign up to measure levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in their local area. In this study, we assessed the impact of CAT on awareness, attitudes and behaviours of participants in relation to air quality. Selected participants (and those who signed up for the study but who were ultimately not selected to engage in NO2 measurement, referred to in this report as non-selected participants) were invited to complete three surveys at various points in 2021 and 2022. It is these survey responses that are used to evaluate the impact of CAT participation on awareness, attitudes and behaviour in relation to air quality.

While the analysis was hindered by small samples, the research identified a number of key findings:

 

  • Compared to the general Dublin population aged 18+, CAT participants were more concentrated in the middle age groups (aged 35-64), and nearly half had postgraduate-level educational qualifications. 
  • The baseline survey was conducted in September 2021, at the start of the CAT project and before participants participated in NO2 measurement or received infographics and further information on NO2. It revealed that CAT participants were more aware of NO2 (and other environmental risks) than the general Dublin population aged 18+, and more likely to correctly identify the main source of NO2 pollution. However, nearly one-quarter of CAT participants did not know the most significant source of NO2 pollution, and a further quarter answered this question incorrectly.
  • In terms of attitudes, CAT participants were, in general, more supportive of various policy measures to reduce air pollution than the overall Dublin population aged 18+. 
  • Analysis of CAT participants who responded to the first (September 2021) and second (March 2022) surveys showed that awareness of NO2-related issues improved. For example, the proportion who correctly identified the most significant source of NO2 increased from just over 50 per cent to nearly 70 per cent, with an additional large decline in the proportion of participants who reported that they did not know the most significant source of NO2 pollution.