'The air still wasn't good ... everywhere I went I was surrounded': Lay perceptions of air quality and health

Edgley, Alison; Pilnick, Alison; Clarke, Michèle
March 2011
Health Sociology Review;Mar2011, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p97
Academic Journal
The study, designed as a pilot, aimed to explore lay perceptions of air quality from participants who were selected to represent three different social categories: age; health status; and geographical location. We compared responses from younger with older participants who held memories of about air quality prior to the Clean Air Act (1956). We also explored possible differences in perception due to health status by including some participants who identified themselves as having asthma. Finally, we compared possible differences in perception between two economically and geographically distinct areas of Greater Nottingham in England. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 22 participants recruited through schools, church groups and residential homes. Our findings suggest that no air (apart from the seaside) is perceived as automatically safe and therefore healthy. We found that perceptions of 'good' air seem to vary with age and health whereas experiences of air quality are associated with socio-economic status. Perceptions of air are shown to be suffused with historical significance, as well as embodying projections embedded from within the local environment and material context.


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