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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume II, Wellbeing and the Environment by Elizabeth Burton, Rachel Cooper, Cary L. Cooper

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10

Quality of Urban Spaces and Wellbeing

Mags Adams

University of Salford, U.K.

Introduction

What constitutes quality in an urban context is rather subjective, although years of effort have been given to understanding particular aspects of it. Much research and policy has focused on establishing baseline levels of pollution, noise, and air quality, establishing standards and determining whether specific urban areas meet these criteria. As a result many urban areas have improved air quality, meet national and World Health Organization pollution guidelines, and, from this empirical perspective, may be considered a quality urban environment.

However, an overview of literature on indicators of urban environmental quality identifies numerous different measures, including air-quality measurements such as concentrations of sulfur oxide (SOx) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, carbon monoxide levels, and low-level ozone exposure, plus other measures such as urban traffic density and noise levels. It is clear that with so many indicators there is no one measure that can successfully, holistically, convey the notion of quality.

These measurable criteria were developed and used for specific policy purposes and as a result the more experiential aspects of living and working in the urban environment have often been neglected when evaluating the quality of those spaces. The distribution of this measurable environmental quality is of itself an area of interest and much research in the area of ...

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