Questionnaire Survey

The Peking iGEM team has conducted a questionnaire survey to gather the information of public awareness of aromatic pollution and its detection as well as the public attitude to the biological prevention.

The Questionnaire
1 What are Aromatic Compounds?
A. Fragrant compounds
B. Benzene series compounds
C. Compounds with heavy metal ion
D. Halogenic compounds

2 Which of the following is the LEAST likely source of aromatic pollution?
A. Petroleum refining
B. Furniture
C. Printworks
D. Perfume

3 Which of the following is most likely to consist of aromatic pollutants?
A. PM2.5
B. Water sample from WEIMING Lake
C. Paint
D. Newspaper

4 Which method is most commonly used in aromatic compound detection?
A. Mass spectrometer
B. Gas chromatography
C. Biosensor
D. Smelling

5 Are you concerned about the aromatic pollution in China?
A. Yes
B. Only concerned about pollution from indoor decoration
C. Only heard of PX(p-Xylene) project
D. Not at all

6 What do you think of biological prevention?
A. Totally for it
B. Totally against it
C. Acceptable
D. No idea

Here are the analyses of the statistics.
The questionnaire we designed is mainly about the definition, source and detection methods of aromatic pollutants as well as the public attitude to it. The sample population is mainly made up of 100 visitors in Beijing from various classes which could roughly represent the public attitude in China.

Question 1
This question is about the definition of aromatic compounds. More than half of the sample population gave the correct answer, B.Benzene series compounds. Still, one third chose the typical wrong answer, A.Fragrant compounds. The most likely explanation was that AROMATIC literally means FRAGRANT in Chinese. This result shows that many people know little about aromatic compounds.

Question 2
This question is about the source of aromatic pollutants. As we can see in Q1, many people consider aromatic compounds as fragrant compounds. Thus, D.Perfume production becomes the most distracting option. One quarter of them chose the right answer, A.Petroleum refining.

Question 3
The third question is about aromatic pollutants in daily life. The reason why most people chose the correct answer, C.Paint, might be the noticeable smell of paint.
A.PM2.5 refers to particles in air pollution whose diameters are smaller than 2.5 micrometers. Since the beginning of 2013, it has become a public concern in China. However, the degree of PM2.5 has little to do with aromatic pollution. The inaccurate idea of PM2.5 needs to be corrected.

Question 4
The answer of this question can’t be taken as a common sense. The most common detection methods are GC/MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) and SERS (surface-enhanced raman spectrometry). GC/MS involves both gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, which means option A and B can both be considered as correct answers. It appears that most people know biosensor is not a common method in aromatic compounds detection. So it is necessary to popularize the idea of biosensors.

Question 5
More than half of the people are concerned about aromatic pollution to some extent. Therefore biosensors that provide a quick and convenient detection are very promising.

Question 6
Most people think biological prevention is acceptable and some even totally for it. But still 15% percent are not assured and even 9% totally against it, which means synthetic biology need to assure the public of its safety.

Environmental pollution is now a serious problem in China, and aromatic pollution has drawn more and more public attention year by year. Since 2007, numbers of protests against PX(para-Xylene) industry were held by citizens in many cities including Dalian, Kunming, Ningbo and Xinmen. However, according to our questionnaire survey, despite the public care much about the pollution, many people still lack the basic knowledge of aromatic pollution, for example the definition, the source and the detection method of aromatic pollutants.

Biosensors that provide a quick and convenient detection are promising tools to meet the public requirement and they are accepted by many people. But synthetic biologists still need to further ensure the public the safety and feasibility of biosensors.