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(Re)assembling air quality science: Exploring air quality knowledge production

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2024
Number of pages228
Awarding Institution
Thesis sponsors
  • NAQTS Ltd.
Award date28/09/2023
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In this thesis I critically examine the production of knowledge about air quality. I do so to explore how air quality knowledge is produced, and critically engage with how we can reconfigure our relations with the air to begin to address air inequalities. I draw upon my direct involvement in three different forms of doing air quality science. I analyse these involvements across three papers that make up the thesis along with Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, and Conclusion chapters.

In Paper 1, using an autoethnographic analysis of PhD fieldwork, I contrast the difference between ‘ready made science’ and ‘science in the making’ through challenging my own conventional account of a school air quality monitoring project. In Paper 2, I show how a research-business project in UK schools that measured indoor air quality to assess the effectiveness of an air cleaning device became re-assembled following the emergence of COVID-19. In Paper 3, I reflect on a citizen science air quality monitoring project: drawing on interviews with citizen scientists I illuminate tensions in the dynamics of knowledge production, including air quality research design and reporting. Moreover, drawing upon science and technology studies, critical physical geography, and environmental justice literatures, I propose a new Critical Air Quality Science framework.

This thesis contributes to ‘hybrid’ ways of thinking about the air that pays attention to its materiality, but also its cultural, social, economic, and political relations: in particular for indoor air quality. Additionally, through drawing upon Actor-Network Theory and other ‘more-than-human’ approaches, I contribute to research characterising the mediating role of scientists in the production of the air. Moreover, through focusing on my own mediating role in the doing of air quality science, I contribute to emerging strands of environmental justice, namely epistemic justice.