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The Mexico City Metropolitan Area has an expansive urban population and a long history of air quality management challenges. Poor air quality has been associated with adverse pulmonary and cardiac health effects, particularly among susceptible populations with underlying disease. In addition to reducing pollution concentrations, risk communication efforts that inform behavior modification have the potential to reduce public health burdens associated with air pollution.
This study investigates the utilization of Mexico’s IMECA risk communication index to inform air pollution avoidance behavior among the general population living in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area. Individuals were selected via probability sampling and surveyed by phone about their air quality index knowledge, pollution concerns, and individual behaviors.
The results indicated reasonably high awareness of the air quality index (53% of respondents), with greater awareness in urban areas, among older and more educated individuals, and for those who received air quality information from a healthcare provider. Additionally, behavior modification was less influenced by index reports as it was by personal perceptions of air quality, and there was no difference in behavior modification among susceptible and non-susceptible groups.
Taken together, these results suggest there are opportunities to improve the public health impact of risk communication through an increased focus on susceptible populations and greater encouragement of public action in response to local air quality indices.