IJERPH, Vol. 16, Pages 1817: Evaluation of the Impacts of a Phone Warning and Advising System for Individuals Vulnerable to Smog. Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial Study in Canada (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Smog warning systems are components of adaptation strategies that are adopted by governments around the world to protect their citizens from extreme episodes of air pollution. As part of a growing research stream on the effectiveness of these systems, this article presents the results of a study on the impacts of an automated phone warning and advising system for individuals vulnerable to air pollution. A sample of 1328 individuals were recruited and randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. The treatment group received smog warning while the control group did not. Data were collected via three phone surveys, two before and one after issuing the smog warning. The comparison between treatment and control groups indicates that exposure to a smog warning improved information on the occurrence of smog episodes (n = 484, OR = 5.58, p = 0.00), and knowledge on protective behaviors. Furthermore, members of treatment group were more likely to avoid exposure to smog episodes by spending more time inside with the windows closed than usual (n = 474, OR = 2.03, p = 0.00). Members of treatment group who take medication in the form of aerosol pumps also kept these devices on themselves more frequently than those of control group (n= 109, OR = 2.15, p = 0.03). The system however had no discernible effects on the awareness of air pollution risks, reduction of health symptoms related to smog and the use of health system services. The absence of health benefits could be related to the lower actual exposure to air pollution of such vulnerable groups during winter.