186154 Measuring the effectiveness of the Air Quality Index: Two web-based studies

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 9:15 AM

Carol Anne Mansfield, PhD , Health, Social and Economics Research, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC
George Van Houtven, PhD , Public Health and Environment, RTI International, Durham, NC
F. Reed Johnson, PhD , RTI Health Solutions, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC
Jui-Chen Yang, MS , Public Health and Environment, RTI International, Durham, NC
Susan Stone , US EPA Office of Air Quality, Research Triangle Park, NC
Zachary Pekar, PhD , US EPA Office of Air Quality, Research Triangle Park, NC
Governments and other organizations provide information about environmental risks to the public to help people avoid exposure to pollutants. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is one such program, providing air pollution forecasts (primarily ozone and particulate matter) and advice on avoiding exposure and reducing emissions through media outlets in large cities on a daily basis. This study provides evidence on the effectiveness of the AQI warnings from two surveys conducted using web panels a survey of children with asthma and a survey of adults age 55 and older. Both studies use activity diaries administered on high and low ozone pollution days to assess whether the children or older adults change their behavior on high ozone days. A debriefing survey collects additional data on awareness of the AQI, risk perceptions about air pollution, and reported behavior on high ozone days. The study of children (funded by an EPA grant and conducted in the summer of 2002) found that children with asthma did reduce their time outdoors on high ozone days and the reductions were correlated with risk perceptions, but not with general awareness of the AQI or parents' reports that they kept their child indoors. EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards will administer the National-Scale Activity Survey (N-SAS) to study older adults' behavior during summer 2008. N-SAS will be compared with the findings from the children's study. Both studies provide data needed to assess and improve information programs for accountability initiatives, regulatory analysis and successful outreach.

Learning Objectives:
1. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Air Quality Index in changing behavior. 2. Understand the public's knowledge of air pollution risks and the Air Quality Index.

Keywords: Health Behavior, Air Quality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a Ph.D. in economics, specializing the environmental economics with 14 years of experience. Before joining RTI, I was on the faculty at Duke University School of the Environment. I lead the design and analysis of the studies I will discuss in the presentation. I have been working on research related to air pollution and health for the past 5 years funded by grants from EPA and contracts with EPA. I have published on the topic and on other environmental economics topics.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.