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Overall the clean cookstove market in Kenya shows promise, but there is a strong need for policy intervention in rural areas to scale up the adoption and use of cookstoves. Human health could be better integrated within this policy in the future by clearly delineating the health indicators of local and global significance that need to be monitored periodically to effectively track progress in health benefits spatially and temporally.


12.2.4 Information policies


In addition to using regulatory mandates and market incentives, governments can, at times, aim to support a change in lifestyle to either reduce emissions or exposure to harmful levels of air pollution by providing the public with better information. This goes in line with an improved understanding of the hazards and risks of exposure to air pollution in recent years (Kelly and Fussel 2015), although the importance of public education for air pollution control was raised more than 50 years ago by Auerbach and Flieger (1967). One example of such an approach is the provision of near real-time air quality observations and forecasts. The posting of near real-time air quality data online is increasingly common in many nations and major cities around the world. Some locations also provide air quality forecasts, predicting air quality levels for one or more days into the future. This information is often further circulated via other websites, social media, smart phone apps, newspapers, local radio and television. These dynamic media may be complemented by educational posters and pamphlets. The objective of providing such information is to encourage citizens to change their lifestyle to:


decrease their exposure to pollution and, consequently, lower the risk of adverse health effects (e.g. by avoiding exercise outdoors during peak concentrations, or for especially vulnerable individuals to stay indoors); and


decrease their emissions (e.g. commute via public transportation instead of personal transport or curtail use of wood fires or other biomass burning during forecast pollution episodes).


Air quality forecasts and real-time values may be used to complement other air pollution control policies. For example, some localities in the United States impose wood-burning restrictions when a pollution episode alert has been issued, while in Europe several large cities, such as Paris, have issued restrictions for private car use during high pollutant concentration episodes in recent years. For the severest of episodes, governments may shutdown factories and other non-essential activities. In China, several cities impose a ban on trucks and other high emission vehicles during the day to manage air quality.


Other examples of providing information to guide behaviour are labelling and branding. In this context, labelling refers to providing information on a product about its environmental impacts, such as its relative emissions or energy consumption, to inform consumers’ choices. Such labels may be required by government regulations (e.g. emissions and fuel economy estimates are required on the labels for new cars in the United States) or may be voluntarily provided by the manufacturer. Branding, in this context, involves associating a logo or symbol with a product or service that indicates to consumers that the


product or service has met some set criteria for environmental performance (e.g. Energy Star). Such brands have been established by governments, industry associations or public advocacy groups as voluntary programmes, and often involve independent testing.


These approaches need to reach a threshold level of awareness and recognition across their target populations before they can have much effect on environmental pressures (consumption and other emissions-generating behaviour) and impacts (exposure-related behaviour). However, once the threshold is reached, citizens and consumers may begin to expect and demand such information. Moreover, increasing awareness of the sources and impacts of pollution may increase public demand for cleaner air, lower emitting products and services, and more stringent policies.


Access to information also promotes innovation. In the past, most of the information on ambient air quality originated from regulatory bodies. With the curiosity of the public to know more about the ambient air quality and its linkages to human health, there is now a new market of non-regulatory air quality monitors, which are providing the same information as the regulatory monitors at lower cost. While the data quality produced by (often referred to as low-cost) air quality sensors for crowdsourcing of air quality information is at times questionable (Lewis and Edwards 2016; Thompson 2016), the empowerment of citizens to take ownership of environmental data should not be underestimated (see Section 25.2). This serves society with information and lets the public make informed decisions on when to go out, when to spend more time outdoors etc., and is further supported by activities to make air quality information openly available and easily accessible—for instance, through the OpenAQ initiative ((https://openaq.org), which aims to “enable previously impossible science, impact policy and empower the public to fight air pollution through open data, open-source tools, and cooperation”.


The need for more information has led to the establishment of private organizations as well as regulatory agencies taking charge of experimenting with novel ways to generate information most suitable for consumption. Experimentation is feasible to expand, and there is room for the regulatory bodies to step in and endorse the emerging technologies for further expansion.


With the wide use of smart phones and open applications, this information is now serving everyone with access to a phone, in addition to traditional dissemination channels. Due to the wide spread use of mobile applications, citizens’ awareness of and access to information is increasing rapidly. As a consequence, the public has generated a demand for change. The availability of targeted information can further empower individuals to be prepared and manage health risks in response to environmental hazards, illustrated, for example, by the Know and Respond information system in Scotland, or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland- wide air pollution forecast provided by the UK, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2018). Know and Respond is a free service to subscribers in Scotland that sends registered users an alert message if air pollution in their area is forecast to be moderate, high or very high (Air Quality in Scotland 2018).


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Air Policy


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