Effectiveness of Air Quality Public Education Programs

Focus Area

Air Quality


Air Quality




Over $750k


1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

TERI Database Administrator Notes:  Not recommended at present time by 2009 Air Quality Subcommittee.


  • Millions of dollars are spent annually on air quality (mobile source-related) public education programs
  • Objectives are to:
    • Inform public of air pollution problems, effects, causes, and actions to reduce emissions
    • Educate audiences on choices/actions to take to reduce emissions
    • Motivate individuals, organizations agencies to act
    • Ultimately reduce target emissions
  • Program types:
    • Provide materials for regional/local programs to use (e.g., It All Adds Up To Cleaner Air)
    • Long term focus on continuing choices, behaviors (e.g., Drive Clean Across Texas)
    • Time period focused on season (e.g., annual ozone season programs, North Texas Clean Air Coalitions’ Commute Solutions Season)
    • Day focused action alerts (e.g., ozone action days, North Central Texas Council of Government’s Ozone Season Lunch Bag Program)
  • Effectiveness:  largely unknown because very little resources are available for in depth follow-up surveys and analysis.  Same with cost-effectiveness.


Assess effectiveness of the four types of programs to assess value of these expenditures and try to correlate results found at the following levels of examination:

  • Understanding/penetration (i.e., attitude survey)
  • Travel choices/behavioral changes (i.e., before-after household or workplace survey)
  • Actual change in motor vehicle travel (i.e., measure trips at or travel associated with target sites or areas)
  • An indication of effectiveness of public education in causing travel behavior changes that lead to emission reductions
  • Actual costs of air quality public education programs; also cost-effectiveness


  • Quantification of results and the associated costs
  • Isolate effects of public education campaign
  • Isolate actual results and correlate to reported (e.g., attitude survey) results

Proposed Research:

  • Inventory cross-section of air quality public education programs, their objectives, target audiences, costs, and expected or potential actual emissions reductions based on activity changes.
  • Assess strengths and weaknesses of program approaches, including target results, focus, etc.
  • Identify most effective (likely) program types and approaches
  • Select a limited number/cross-section of the most effective program types for before-after or retrospective surveys, traffic count comparisons, or other applicable types of surveys.  Include questions that ask a respondent to quantify the contributions of various causal effects in making the behavioral change (e.g., use multiple response questions allocating weights to factors that led to the respondent’s behavioral change)
  • Design, conduct, and analyze surveys
  • Analyze causal factors (including public education programs) that lead to travel behavior changes that resulted in emissions reductions
  • Assess actual costs of air quality public education programs (both direct costs and soft match or donated services) based on information gathered from surveys; also assess cost-effectiveness to the extent possible.
  • Evaluate results and develop conclusions and recommendations
  • Prepare final report

Urgency and Payoff

Not provided.

Suggested By

TRB Research Needs Database, ADC20, Transportation and Air Quality

[email protected]