What Policy Makers and the Public at Large Should Know About Air Quality

  • Wouter LefebvreEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Complexity book series (SPCOM)


Poor air quality results in important health effects. However, the understanding of the problem by the public at large and by the policy makers is sometimes severely lacking. Therefore, it could be important to boil down the knowledge on air quality to some main points which then can be communicated to the stakeholders. The paper present such a list and is based on interviews and discussions with several air quality experts in the field. For the public at large, the main message is twofold. First of all, citizens have to acknowledge that every action they take has an influence on the quality of the air they breathe. Secondly, they have to understand the impact of air pollution on their own health and their neighbors, without blindly relying on rules like ‘natural/green is good for air quality’, which are often wrong. For the policy makers, a more heterogeneous set emerged from the discussions between the experts. First of all, policy makers have to know how much they (on their government level) can influence the air quality, and what effect certain actions can have on the population for which they are responsible. Secondly, they need to understand the uncertainties on the numbers as they exist now. Finally, stakeholders are encouraged to take action, from the local scale on, in order to get the actions at other levels moving (act local, think global).



I want to thank the persons whom I collected interviews from: Silvia Trini Castelli, Goran Gašparac, Saravanan Arunachalam, Philippe Thunis, Kees Cuvelier and Stijn Janssen for their valuable input.


  1. 1.
    GBD, Global Burden of Disease (2017), Data: 2016. Source: Accessed 24 Jan 2018.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.VITOMolBelgium

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