The Impact of Traffic Related Air Pollution in Northern Ireland

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In Northern Ireland there is a high dependency on private cars to make journeys. This dependency is one of the reasons why several areas currently exceed the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide. Exposure to pollutants emitted from vehicles has been linked to various health effects across all stages of life from the unborn child to the elderly. There is a large amount of research which has investigated the health impact of exposure to air pollution. Due to the amount of information available and the conflicting results there is some confusion on what the impact of exposure to air pollution is. To contextualise and underpin this research a review of the current literature was completed. Although air pollution is known by professionals to impact on health, the awareness and concern of those who are exposed to air pollution is unknown. Furthermore, the majority of previous research has focused on outdoor air pollution, when the majority of time is spent indoors. This research investigates three different aspects of traffic related air pollution in Northern Ireland. This includes public awareness and knowledge of air pollution, the indoor and outdoor levels of nitrogen dioxide and the evaluation of local air quality management. To gather the empirical data, a mixed method approach was devised which consisted of questionnaires, interviews and the measurement of nitrogen dioxide levels. During the data analysis stage, SPSS was used to analyse the quantitative data and NVivo was used to analyse the qualitative data. Several key findings were found from the research which will be useful for policy development and for the future management of air pollution from traffic. There was a low level of awareness among those living in air quality management areas about the levels of air pollution they were being exposed to. The participants who had a greater knowledge of the health impact of air pollution had a higher level of concern about air pollution. There were several areas where the measured level of nitrogen dioxide exceeded the legal level. The local air quality management system has had success in identifying the levels of air pollution but has failed to reduce traffic related air pollution. A new approach is required along with greater public engagement. The vii policy and practical implications of the research are outlined. These indicate where future interventions should focus.
Date of AwardAug 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorSean Mac Intyre (Supervisor), Marie Vaganay Miller (Supervisor) & Robert Eadie (Supervisor)


  • nitrogen dioxide
  • transport
  • indoor
  • outdoor

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