Air pollution sources have been a major concern in the United States since the 1960’s. An estimated 200,000 early deaths are attributed to air pollution in the United States (Caiazzo et al., 2013) According to the World Health Organization (WHO) approximately 7 million deaths worldwide are attributed to air pollution. Air pollution is known to be a major environmental risk to health and by reducing air pollution levels there would be a reduction of the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma (C. T. Fowler, 2003; Maantay, 2007; Meng et al., 2010; Schwartz & Pepper, 2009).
However understanding air pollution perception and how the public perceives risk associated to it is also a growing concern. There has been research regarding pesticide perception and what protective behaviors individuals take in various countries, yet very few research has been done regarding how people perceive air pollution and what precautions they take to protect themselves. There are many sources that contribute to air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) such as such as industry, agriculture, transportation, and wildfires. Although there has been efforts to improve current risk communication strategies that aim to inform the public on avoiding exposure of increased levels of air pollutants (Johnson, 2011, 2012; King, 2015), there exists a gap in research that focuses to understand perception of air pollutants in the SJV.
This dissertation aims to examine and cover the following areas:
1. Provide an overview of previous research in form of a literature review and identify gaps.
2. Assess perceptions about air quality of individuals who work outdoors.
3. Analyze three methods of recruitment and perceptions of air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.
4. Explore recruitment and retention of citizen science participants when attempting to assess air quality perception.
5. Examine perceived air quality, extent of concern, and perceived air pollution contributors.