Study on Government Employees Concerns about Air Pollution and its Control in Nanchang, China

Research Article

Austin J Public Health Epidemiol. 2016; 3(1): 1030.

Study on Government Employees Concerns about Air Pollution and its Control in Nanchang, China

Liu XJ¹, Pan BB¹, Wu YY², Lee T², Hu YX¹, Li YP¹, Yuan ZK¹* and Lu Y1,2*

¹Department to School, Nanchang University, China

²Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

*Corresponding author: Yuanan Lu, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Zhaokang Yuan, School of Public Health, Nanchang University, Nanchang, Jiangxi 330006, China

Received: October 06, 2015; Accepted: January 01, 2015; Published: January 04, 2016


Air pollution has become an imminent hazard to public health in China. The government employees perceptions of air quality, pollution sources and the current policies are critical for air pollution control. A cross-sectional survey of 629 questionnaires to specifically targeted government employees was conducted between March and July of 2015. The aim of this paper is to assess the understanding of, and factors associated with the government employees’ understanding of air pollution causes and the government’s prevention policy in Nanchang. Survey results suggested that 39.5% of respondents felt anxious when exposed to contaminated air. A multivariable logistic regression model was used and declared that female and older adults were more anxious about current air pollution. Most of the respondents are aware of the three major causes of air pollution: motor vehicles (64.64%), industrial facilities (63.98%), and city development (53.78%). They also recognize the most effective method for air pollution control, namely national-wide control of air pollution (93.42%), increasing solar and other green energy (83.39%), and controlling current urban expansion (38.49%). In addition, about 72% of respondents believed that the local government did not spend enough on environmental protection, and 95.4% of respondents supported more government spending or action to improve air quality. A great majority of respondents thought the local leaders should place high priority on preserving and protecting the local environment. Our results suggest that local government should take quick action to implement effective regulations and laws for controlling air pollution during the fast growing industrialization development.

Keywords: Air pollution; Perception; Government employee; Nanchang; Environmental protection


Rapid development of the economy and society over the past three decades has led China to be the world’s second largest economy after the United States, but at the cost of serious environmental pollution [1,2]. China’s inefficient model of economic growth, high resource commitment and resource consumption has caused serious environmental pollution, most notably air pollution [3]. The Asian Development Bank [4] report showed that seven of the ten most polluted cities in the world were located in China, endless than 1% of 500 major cities in China met the World Health Organization’s air quality standards [5]. The World Bank report revealed that more than 60% of Chinese urban populations were exposed to the III standard or above air pollution [6]. Additionally, according to China Environmental Bulletin released on June 4, 2015, only 16 of 161 cities selected as the Nationwide New Air Quality Standard for testing met the new air quality standard, yielding an air quality compliance rating of less than 10% [7]. China is facing the most severe environmental challenges in its history, threatening the present and future generations’ living conditions. If these environmental challenges are not addressed properly, poor air quality could affect the health of the Chinese population as well as China’s economic development in the next decade.

Air pollution has caused tremendous health hazards [8,9]; several large epidemiological studies have shown it can increase morbidity and mortality [10,11]. Recent studies have revealed that air pollution is associated with many diseases such as respiratory diseases like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, and lung cancer [12-16]. New health problems will appear if China continues to undergo urbanization without effective control policies. According to The 2010 Global Burden of Disease Report published in The Lancet, outdoor pollution caused by Particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) led to 1.2 million premature deaths and 25 million disability adjusted life years lost in China in 2010 [17,18]. Accordingly, it caused strong resentment among the people. This allows us to be keenly aware that economic development must not be to the cost of environmental pollution and economic development needs to protect the environment.

Since air pollution is a major public health problem in China, public meetings are held to ask the government to take action. As policy makers, government employees have an apparent impact on air pollution control. Government employees’ awareness of the effects of air pollution will not only reflect how high a priority local governments place on air pollution but also impact the authority’s governing philosophy profoundly. Government workers’accurate understanding of the sources of air pollution is crucial in developing campaigns and programs that address this issue, and which will affect the corresponding policy decision. We have recently examined parents’ and caretakers’ perceptions on how air pollution has affected their children’s health in last two years [19,20]. Therefore, we followed Zhang et al.’s study this year, and our main focus is to understand how local government employees view the connection between air pollution and its health impacts and their perceptions of the sources of air pollution and control measurements.

Materials and Methods

Inclusion criteria

According to the Civil Servant Law of the People’s Republic of China [21], we chose those government staffs in-service in Nanchang for the survey, including the contract workers, but office support personnel were excluded in this study.

Sample size estimation and sampling strategy

Sample size was determined by the formula of the cross-sectional survey [22]:

Where p is the overall awareness rate 45.8%, from the result of Zhang et al., study [19], d is the margin of error (5%). The level of significance is set at 5%, thus the z-value is 1.96 and the sample size is calculated to be 382.

Stratified cluster sampling was used to recruit participants. First, under full consideration of the economic situation of each district among the nine districts of Nanchang, we ranked them based on their per capita gross domestic product in 2013 (per capita GDP = the total GDP of a district / the resident population of the district), according to the data from the Jiangxi Statistical Yearbook 2014 [23]. These districts were then divided into high, medium and low groups and one district was randomly selected from each group: Donghu District was labeled as high-income, Qingyunpu District was selected for medium, and Wanli District enrolled for the low-income group. Finally, three different government departments were randomly chosen from each district, with nine departments selected in total. Taking into account non-response rate, we distributed 585 questionnaires to the nine departments (65 each). Additionally, 74 questionnaires were issued to the health and family planning commission of Donghu District and 75 were sent to the remaining eight departments. Thus, a total number of 629 questionnaires were issued.

Survey method

Based on the questionnaire used in the survey conducted among residents in Nanchang in 2013 (19), a 26-item questionnaire improved by public health experts from University of Hawaii at Manoa and Nanchang University was used. The questionnaire covers: 1) social demographic characteristics including the participant’s gender, age, educational level, average annual household income (AAHI); 2) perception of current air quality, such as general attitude about local air quality, knowledge of air pollution index and concerns about health issues associated with air quality, etc. 3) understanding of the main sources of air pollution and its control measures; 4) perceptions about the individual and governmental actions aimed at air pollution management. Most questions utilized a 4 or 5-point Liker scale.

Quality control

Both the sample selection and the questionnaire survey for this study were carried out in strict accordance with the design plan. The investigators were trained to use a unified guidance language. The questionnaire survey was filled out independently by government employees themselves based on their understanding of the items, which can avoid bias due to induced prompts of investigators. To maximize the participants’ compliance, we made a very clear explanation of the purpose and significance of this study to the investigation objects every time before the survey was conducted and patiently answered the questions raised by them. Investigators verified the questionnaires, and timely reworked unqualified questionnaires with obvious logic errors or omissions, or eliminated invalid and poor quality questionnaires (such as having the same answer for all questions and duplicate questionnaires). We used EpiData3.1 to set up the database, double entry and logical verification of the questionnaires was done to ensure the accuracy of the data.

Statistical analysis

The data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17.0 and Microsoft Excel 2012. The alpha level was set at 0.05 to determine statistical significance. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the characteristics of the participants, and multi-variate logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the factors that were associated with the participants’ anxiety of contaminated air.


General demographic characteristics of respondents are shown in Table 1. A total of 608 valid questionnaires were collected (recovery rate was 96.66%). There were 419 males (68.91%) among the respondents. Age at 18-29, 30-39, 40-49 and 50-60 accounted for 30.76%, 29.11%, 24.34% and 15.79% of the responses, respectively. The vast majority of government employees (94.74%) achieved at least a bachelor’s degree. A total of 246 respondents’ Average Annual Household Income (AAHI) was between 25000 to 49999 Yuan, followed by AAHI between 10000-24999 Yuan, accounting for 40.46% and 20.56%, respectively.