Public engagement on urban air pollution: an exploratory study of two interventions

  • Christian Oltra
  • Roser Sala
  • Àlex Boso
  • Sergi López Asensio


The use of portable sensors to measure air quality is a promising approach for the management of urban air quality given its potential to improve public participation in environmental issues and to promote healthy behaviors. However, not all the projects that use air quality mobile sensors consider the potential effects of their use on the attitudes and behaviors of non-expert individuals. This study explores the experiences, perceptions, attitudes, and behavioral intentions of 12 participants who used a real-time NO2 sensor over a period of 7 days in the metropolitan area of Barcelona and compares them with 16 participants who did not have access to the device but rather to documentary information. The study design is based on recombined focus groups who met at the beginning and end of a 7-day activity. The results suggest that the experience with the sensors, in comparison with the traditional information, generates greater motivation among participants. Also, that the use of the sensor seems to support a more specific awareness of the problem of air pollution. In relation to risk perception, the textual and visual information seems to generate stronger beliefs of severity among participants. In both groups, beliefs of low controllability and self-efficacy are observed. Neither using the sensor nor reading the documentary information seems to contribute positively in this sense. The results of the study aim to contribute to the design of public involvement strategies in urban air pollution.


Air pollution Portable sensors Public engagement Attitudes Focus groups 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sociotechnical Research Centre, Department of EnvironmentCIEMATBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Núcleo de Ciencias SocialesUniversidad de la FronteraTemucoChile

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