Pima County, Ariz. (August 9, 2011) – Pima County Department of Environmental Quality’s Clean Air Program efforts in fiscal 2010-2011 are paying off.
More than half those surveyed know about the program and more than half also knew about the county co-sponsored annual Earth Day festival and parade, the Bike to Work Day and Bike Fest.
Also, 74 percent of those surveyed said they have seen or heard TV or radio commercials about clean air or air pollution. A total of 403 interviews of males and females 16 and older were conducted by phone in June 2011 by a local consultant.
The goal of the survey was to evaluate the effectiveness of county programs designed to make people aware of what they can do to help clean the air – and to let them know when air pollution is above federal standards.
More than half of those surveyed said they found television alerts the most effective way for them to get information on county air-quality alerts.
A total of 43 percent said radio was the most effective way to reach them with these alerts. And 37 percent said a television news story is the most effective way for them to get this information. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is considering tightening its air quality standards to make them even more protective of health, so local air-quality alerts could become more frequent.
The survey also asked people whether they bike or carpool to work or school; whether they are driving less to reduce air pollution, and whether they have someone in their home with a breathing problem that could be affected by poor air quality.
The survey focused on transportation issues, since the majority of the air pollution in Pima County is caused by motor vehicle use. It asked people whether they ride a bike to school or work or to shop and do errands.
The last survey of the county’s Clean Air programs was completed in May 2008. Budget cuts made it impossible to do a survey in 2009 and 2010, said Pima County Department of Environmental Quality Senior Program Manager Beth Gorman.
Gorman said the survey results will be used by the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality to:
- Evaluate efforts to increase awareness of air quality issues
- Encourage actions to reduce air pollution
- Develop effective ways to communicate air quality alerts
- Develop public knowledge of air quality issues and county services related to air quality
The information also will be used by other county departments, including the Department of Transportation, as well as outside local agencies, to:
- Determine current travel behaviors
- Determine use of alternate modes of transportation
- Find effective ways to encourage the use of alternate modes of transportation
Gorman presented the survey results at a meeting of the Pima Association of Governments’ Travel Reduction Program Regional Task Force in July.
The $9,900 survey was paid for with grant funding from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. It was conducted by a local, private company hired by the county through a competitive bid process.
The evaluation of the county’s clean air program is required as part of the grant’s ” Scope of Work,” in order to qualify for state funding.