Differences in public’s perception of air quality and acceptability of a clean air zone: A mixed-methods cross sectional study

Publication authors

T.F. Mebrahtu, R.R.C. McEachan, T.C. Yang, K. Crossley, R. Rashid, R. Hossain, I. Vaja, M. Bryant




Air pollution is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Clean Air Zones (CAZs) which restrict the entry of polluting vehicles in targeted areas have been identified as potentially effective in improving health and reducing air pollution; however, their implementation can be controversial.


A cross-sectional survey was completed by 1949 respondents who lived or worked in Bradford, a multi-cultural deprived city in England, between April and December 2021. Of these, 1137 were recruited from the longitudinal Born in Bradford (BiB) family cohort (families with children born in the city during 2007–2011) and 812 were from the general public. Bradford is the seventh largest metropolitan district in England and Wales with a population of over half a million mainly white British and Pakistani origin. The BiB families cohort and the general public respondents were used for descriptive analysis of perception of air quality and acceptability of CAZ, then the relationship between participants responses with demographic characteristics were investigated using the BiB families cohort. Outcomes included perceptions of air quality and acceptability of the CAZ supplemented by free-text questions. Thematic analysis was used to code free-text data. Descriptive analyses were performed on the entire sample. Latent class analysis was used to characterise participants was performed in the BiB dataset for whom detailed existing socio-demographic data were available.


The majority of participants (67%) considered improving air quality in Bradford as extremely important; 70% supported implementation of the CAZ. Three latent classes were identified within the BiB sample: deprived white British families (25%), more affluent white British families (32%) and deprived Pakistani-origin families (43%). Deprived white British (OR = 0.54, 95% CI: 0.34 to 0.84) and more affluent white British families (OR = 0.53, 95% CI: 0.36 to 0.79) were less likely to say the air quality was good/excellent when compared with deprived Pakistani-origin families. Affluent White British families were more likely to support the CAZ compared with deprived white British families (OR = 2.24; 95% CI: 1.55. to 3.25) and deprived Pakistani-origin families (OR = 2.06, 95% CI: 1.50 to 2.85). Qualitative analysis suggested that a perceived lack of cohesion in the policy and concerns about financial impacts drove negative attitudes.


Families in Bradford were generally supportive of the planned CAZ and efforts to reduce pollution; however, support was weaker in more deprived communities. Pakistani-origin communities living in deprived areas perceived air quality as better than other groups. Tailored approaches to communicate about the proposed benefits of policies such as CAZ prior to implementation may be an important way to increase acceptability amongst vulnerable groups.