Public perception and behavior change in relationship to hot weather and air pollution

Jan C. Semenza, Daniel J. Wilson, Jeremy Parra, Brian D. Bontempo, Melissa Hart, David Sailor, Linda A. George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

100 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Changes in climate systems are increasing heat wave frequency and air stagnation, both conditions associated with exacerbating poor air quality and of considerable public health concern. Objectives: Heat and air pollution advisory systems are in place in many cities for early detection and response to reduce health consequences, or severity of adverse conditions. Whereas the ability to forecast heat waves and/or air pollution episodes has become increasingly sophisticated and accurate, little is known about the effectiveness of advisories in altering public behavior. Methods: Air quality and meteorological conditions were measured during advisory and control days in Portland, OR and Houston, TX in 2005 and 2006 and 1962 subjects were interviewed by telephone about their perception and response to these conditions. Results: Elevated ambient temperatures were accurately recognized regardless of air conditioning use; in Portland, respondents resorted to active cooling behavior (AC, fan, etc.), while in Houston no such change was observed. More heat-related symptoms were reported in Portland compared to Houston, probably due to low air conditioning use in the northwest. One-third of study participants were aware of air quality advisories but only ∼10-15% claimed to have changed activities during such an episode. Not the advisory, however, drove their behavior change, but rather the perception of poor air quality, which was not related to PM2.5 or ozone measurements. Conclusions: Messages are not reaching the public during potentially hazardous weather and air quality conditions. Climatic forecasts are increasingly predictive but public agencies fail to mount an appropriate outreach response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-411
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Research
Volume107
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Air Pollution
Weather
Air pollution
Air quality
air quality
atmospheric pollution
Air
weather
Infrared Rays
air conditioning
Air Conditioning
Air conditioning
Hot Temperature
Ozone
Public health
Aptitude
Telephone
Climate Change
Fans
public health

Keywords

  • Advisory
  • Air conditioning
  • Air pollution
  • Climate change
  • Health behavior
  • Heat wave
  • Hot weather
  • Humidity
  • Ozone
  • PM
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

Semenza, J. C., Wilson, D. J., Parra, J., Bontempo, B. D., Hart, M., Sailor, D., & George, L. A. (2008). Public perception and behavior change in relationship to hot weather and air pollution. Environmental Research, 107(3), 401-411. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2008.03.005

Public perception and behavior change in relationship to hot weather and air pollution. / Semenza, Jan C.; Wilson, Daniel J.; Parra, Jeremy; Bontempo, Brian D.; Hart, Melissa; Sailor, David; George, Linda A.

In: Environmental Research, Vol. 107, No. 3, 07.2008, p. 401-411.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Semenza, JC, Wilson, DJ, Parra, J, Bontempo, BD, Hart, M, Sailor, D & George, LA 2008, 'Public perception and behavior change in relationship to hot weather and air pollution', Environmental Research, vol. 107, no. 3, pp. 401-411. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2008.03.005
Semenza, Jan C. ; Wilson, Daniel J. ; Parra, Jeremy ; Bontempo, Brian D. ; Hart, Melissa ; Sailor, David ; George, Linda A. / Public perception and behavior change in relationship to hot weather and air pollution. In: Environmental Research. 2008 ; Vol. 107, No. 3. pp. 401-411.
@article{4dff3e93db4442e7b14e39a3b471f888,
title = "Public perception and behavior change in relationship to hot weather and air pollution",
abstract = "Background: Changes in climate systems are increasing heat wave frequency and air stagnation, both conditions associated with exacerbating poor air quality and of considerable public health concern. Objectives: Heat and air pollution advisory systems are in place in many cities for early detection and response to reduce health consequences, or severity of adverse conditions. Whereas the ability to forecast heat waves and/or air pollution episodes has become increasingly sophisticated and accurate, little is known about the effectiveness of advisories in altering public behavior. Methods: Air quality and meteorological conditions were measured during advisory and control days in Portland, OR and Houston, TX in 2005 and 2006 and 1962 subjects were interviewed by telephone about their perception and response to these conditions. Results: Elevated ambient temperatures were accurately recognized regardless of air conditioning use; in Portland, respondents resorted to active cooling behavior (AC, fan, etc.), while in Houston no such change was observed. More heat-related symptoms were reported in Portland compared to Houston, probably due to low air conditioning use in the northwest. One-third of study participants were aware of air quality advisories but only ∼10-15{\%} claimed to have changed activities during such an episode. Not the advisory, however, drove their behavior change, but rather the perception of poor air quality, which was not related to PM2.5 or ozone measurements. Conclusions: Messages are not reaching the public during potentially hazardous weather and air quality conditions. Climatic forecasts are increasingly predictive but public agencies fail to mount an appropriate outreach response.",
keywords = "Advisory, Air conditioning, Air pollution, Climate change, Health behavior, Heat wave, Hot weather, Humidity, Ozone, PM, Temperature",
author = "Semenza, {Jan C.} and Wilson, {Daniel J.} and Jeremy Parra and Bontempo, {Brian D.} and Melissa Hart and David Sailor and George, {Linda A.}",
year = "2008",
month = "7",
doi = "10.1016/j.envres.2008.03.005",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "107",
pages = "401--411",
journal = "Environmental Research",
issn = "0013-9351",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Public perception and behavior change in relationship to hot weather and air pollution

AU - Semenza, Jan C.

AU - Wilson, Daniel J.

AU - Parra, Jeremy

AU - Bontempo, Brian D.

AU - Hart, Melissa

AU - Sailor, David

AU - George, Linda A.

PY - 2008/7

Y1 - 2008/7

N2 - Background: Changes in climate systems are increasing heat wave frequency and air stagnation, both conditions associated with exacerbating poor air quality and of considerable public health concern. Objectives: Heat and air pollution advisory systems are in place in many cities for early detection and response to reduce health consequences, or severity of adverse conditions. Whereas the ability to forecast heat waves and/or air pollution episodes has become increasingly sophisticated and accurate, little is known about the effectiveness of advisories in altering public behavior. Methods: Air quality and meteorological conditions were measured during advisory and control days in Portland, OR and Houston, TX in 2005 and 2006 and 1962 subjects were interviewed by telephone about their perception and response to these conditions. Results: Elevated ambient temperatures were accurately recognized regardless of air conditioning use; in Portland, respondents resorted to active cooling behavior (AC, fan, etc.), while in Houston no such change was observed. More heat-related symptoms were reported in Portland compared to Houston, probably due to low air conditioning use in the northwest. One-third of study participants were aware of air quality advisories but only ∼10-15% claimed to have changed activities during such an episode. Not the advisory, however, drove their behavior change, but rather the perception of poor air quality, which was not related to PM2.5 or ozone measurements. Conclusions: Messages are not reaching the public during potentially hazardous weather and air quality conditions. Climatic forecasts are increasingly predictive but public agencies fail to mount an appropriate outreach response.

AB - Background: Changes in climate systems are increasing heat wave frequency and air stagnation, both conditions associated with exacerbating poor air quality and of considerable public health concern. Objectives: Heat and air pollution advisory systems are in place in many cities for early detection and response to reduce health consequences, or severity of adverse conditions. Whereas the ability to forecast heat waves and/or air pollution episodes has become increasingly sophisticated and accurate, little is known about the effectiveness of advisories in altering public behavior. Methods: Air quality and meteorological conditions were measured during advisory and control days in Portland, OR and Houston, TX in 2005 and 2006 and 1962 subjects were interviewed by telephone about their perception and response to these conditions. Results: Elevated ambient temperatures were accurately recognized regardless of air conditioning use; in Portland, respondents resorted to active cooling behavior (AC, fan, etc.), while in Houston no such change was observed. More heat-related symptoms were reported in Portland compared to Houston, probably due to low air conditioning use in the northwest. One-third of study participants were aware of air quality advisories but only ∼10-15% claimed to have changed activities during such an episode. Not the advisory, however, drove their behavior change, but rather the perception of poor air quality, which was not related to PM2.5 or ozone measurements. Conclusions: Messages are not reaching the public during potentially hazardous weather and air quality conditions. Climatic forecasts are increasingly predictive but public agencies fail to mount an appropriate outreach response.

KW - Advisory

KW - Air conditioning

KW - Air pollution

KW - Climate change

KW - Health behavior

KW - Heat wave

KW - Hot weather

KW - Humidity

KW - Ozone

KW - PM

KW - Temperature

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=44649197103&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=44649197103&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.envres.2008.03.005

DO - 10.1016/j.envres.2008.03.005

M3 - Article

VL - 107

SP - 401

EP - 411

JO - Environmental Research

JF - Environmental Research

SN - 0013-9351

IS - 3

ER -