Air pollution and health – The views of policy makers, planners, public and private sector on barriers and incentives for change

Abstract

Introduction: Traffic volume and urban air quality has not improved in Scotland in recent years. The aim of this study was to investigate the barriers and incentives to reducing the risk of traffic-related air pollution and protecting physical and general well being. Method: Semi-structure interviews where held with professionals from the key environmental organisations involved in policy, planning, implementation and lobbying for improvements in air quality. Results: The most frequent barrier identified was the lack of integrated planning between housing developments – shopping – schools - employment centres – and transport systems (e.g. roads, footpaths, cycle lanes, public transport options). The next most frequent barrier was the lack of personal or business choices that might facilitate an increase in active and public transport uptake. Almost as important was the perceived lack of understanding amongst the public about the health risks associated with air pollution, and the lack of voice for vulnerable people, particularly children. The top three incentives for change mirrored the key barriers with proposals for subsidising public transport and coordinating services to make it a more feasible option; improve public understanding; and address the planning and infrastructure fragmentation. Conclusion: A lack of progress in reducing air pollution may be related to the invisibility of the problem both in health and economic terms. There is a disconnect between planning and development priorities at a national and local level which means vehicular transport is still the most efficient and cost effective option for personal and business transport. What is needed is political commitment to align policies and use both hard (punitive) measures and soft (behaviour choice) measures to reduce traffic-related air pollution in urban areas and protect and improve health. To address this real time, linked air pollution and health impact information must be made widely available.

Author

Hyland, Jackie Donnelly, Peter

Journal

Journal of Transport & Health, 2015

Keywords

Air pollution , Traffic, Urban development , Health impact

References

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jth.2015.03.006