Strengthening Public Engagement on Environmental Hazards: Insights from Cross-Disciplinary Air Pollution Research

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Environmental Hazards-Human and Policy Dimensions

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Studying air pollution provides an opportunity to explore public opinion about the environment from a health perspective, and examine how the often-siloed fields of health, environmental, and science communication might inform each other to generate a more holistic understanding of these issues. This raises an important question for social scientists: what is the best way to understand public perception of hazards that rest at the intersection of health, the environment, and science? In this study, we examine the extent to which risk perceptions and environmental values predict individual-level protective behaviours and civic action surrounding air pollution in Portland, Oregon. We find that risk perceptions significantly predict individual-level protective behaviour, civic action, and engagement preferences to varying degrees. We also find that the inclusion of environmental values offers additional explanatory power. Results demonstrate that combining approaches from health, environmental, and science communication offers a more holistic understanding of public perception of and engagement with environmental risks.


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