Citizens’ Perception on Air Quality in Portugal—How Concern Motivates Awareness
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Study Area
2.3. Statistical Analysis
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Characteristics of Respondents
3.2. Issues of Concern
3.3. Perception of Air Quality
3.4. Identification of Pollution Sources
- The overestimation of the contribution of transport sector to air pollution by the public perception (59% and 44% for the general and UFSAAPP populations, respectively, against 12% of real contribution of transports to PM2.5 levels in Portugal);
- The underestimation of the “residential, commercial and institutional” source by the public perception (19% and 11% for the general and UFSAAPP populations, respectively, against 37% of the contribution of this source to the PM2.5 levels in Portugal)
- The great underestimation of the “manufacturing and extractive industry” contribution by the general population (6%) regarding the real contribution of 45% in Portugal (where the average contribution in the EU-27 is 17%). The UFSAAPP population indicated a value of 37% (probably, as described previously, due to their own concerns regarding the local industries), which is close to the real contribution verified in Portugal. However, it is relevant to highlight that the real contribution is higher than the perception of both populations, which indicates that the common citizen is not aware of the impact of industry in the air quality.
- The negligible contribution of agriculture to air pollution, perceived by the general (3%) and the UFSAAPP (0%) populations, while the real world data indicate a higher contribution of 5% in Portugal and of 6% in the EU-27. However, if considering the secondary PM sources, such as SO2 and NOX from the industry contribution and NOX from traffic emissions, combined with ammonia emission (from the agricultural sector), the solo contribution of agriculture may be very significant to air pollution levels and, typically, it is neglected by the public perception .
3.5. Identification of Air Pollutants
3.6. Information about Air Quality
3.7. Impacts of Air Quality in the Daily Life
3.8. To Which Mitigation Measures to Improve Air Quality Are the Citizens More Favorable to?
- Great differences were found when comparing both studied populations. It was found that UFSAAPP population showed a higher concern regarding air pollution in comparison with the general population (with 61.4% of the UFSAAPP population considering it the main environmental concern). This higher concern was also demonstrated by their significant knowledge of possible pollutants and higher need to search for information about the topic. Furthermore, the UFSAAPP population considered industry as the main source of air pollution (with 37.4% of the answers) along with traffic (37.4%). This trend was not found in the general population, where traffic was appointed as the main pollution source (51.7%), followed by the industry (only with 6.2%). This fact highlights the concern and awareness that the UFSAAPP population has regarding industry as a pollution source.
- A great part of the Portuguese population feels that are not suitably informed regarding the air quality levels in their area (65%), with only 10% stating that they feel well informed about it. It would be important that reliable and easily understandable information about air quality could be of easy access and widespread throughout the country; this would empower the citizens regarding air quality and promote their future engagement in mitigation actions to improve air quality. This is a crucial area that policy makers and governmental bodies should focus on in order to decrease the national environmental illiteracy regarding this topic and promote behavioral actions in the population that can lead to an improvement in the air quality.
- Unfortunately, this study revealed that the governmental online and free database of information about local air quality (QualAR) is almost unknown by the Portuguese population (being acknowledged to be a source of information by only 3% of the participants). This highlights that the current dissemination strategies are not working or are not enough to reach the general public, which should be targeted to maximize all the potentialities of this available tool.
- Due to the citizens’ awareness about air pollution and its health and daily life impacts, air quality is a relevant issue in the real estate market (10.8% of citizens consider to change their area of residence when under air pollution events). This fact potentiates the engagement of local governmental authorities to implement measures to improve local air quality, to improve the quality of life of their citizens, to attract new inhabitants to the area and to improve the touristic potential of their municipalities.
Informed Consent Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Population||All Answers to |
|Answers to Survey, Excluding from Seixal Municipality|
|Região Autónoma da Madeira||251,060||2.4||2||0.2||2||0.2|
|Região Autónoma dos Açores||236,657||2.3||5||0.4||5||0.5|
|Viana do Castelo||231,488||2.2||3||0.3||3||0.3|
|Prefer not to answer||4||0.4||3||2.4|
|School Level||Primary School (4 years)||5||0.5||1||0.8|
|Basic school (6 years)||11||1.1||0||0.0|
|Middle school (9 years)||31||3.1||3||2.4|
|High school (12 years)||293||29.2||54||42.5|
|Prefer not to answer||56||5.6||20||15.7|
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Canha, N.; Justino, A.R.; Gamelas, C.A.; Almeida, S.M. Citizens’ Perception on Air Quality in Portugal—How Concern Motivates Awareness. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 12760. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191912760
Canha N, Justino AR, Gamelas CA, Almeida SM. Citizens’ Perception on Air Quality in Portugal—How Concern Motivates Awareness. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(19):12760. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191912760Chicago/Turabian Style
Canha, Nuno, Ana Rita Justino, Carla A. Gamelas, and Susana Marta Almeida. 2022. "Citizens’ Perception on Air Quality in Portugal—How Concern Motivates Awareness" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 19: 12760. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191912760