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ClientEarth Communications

11th April 2019

You have a right to breathe clean air

Air pollution is linked to more than 400,000 early deaths each year in Europe. Often, people are unaware of the potential health impacts of poor air quality. You have a right to breathe clean air.

James Thornton, ClientEarth founder

Ten years ago, few people recognised air pollution as a public health emergency in Europe

Of course, cities such as London had experienced issues with smog in the past. But the dangers of modern-day, invisible air pollution were rarely highlighted in mainstream media. Although it was still damaging people’s health it was low on the public agenda.

The health impacts of air pollution were something James Thornton was keenly aware of when he moved to London and set up ClientEarth. He discovered that air quality levels were far exceeding legal limits. He decided something needed to be done – and knew ClientEarth’s lawyers were the right team to do it.

How does air pollution affect your health?

Air pollution affects the health and quality of life of people living in cities across Europe on a daily basis. It aggravates breathing conditions and increases the risk of asthma attacks leading to more hospital admissions. Prolonged exposure can cause serious medical conditions, such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes.

While we are all affected, those who are the most vulnerable in our society are more at risk, especially children and older people. Exposure to air pollution can cause children to develop breathing conditions and stunted lungs.

There is also a growing body of research linking air pollution to other illnesses, including diabetes, developmental problems for children and suggested links to dementia.

Based in the UK? Join our Clean Air Parents Network

We are leading the legal fight for clean air

We have proven in the courts that the UK government is failing in its legal duty to protect us from toxic air pollution, forcing it to produce two new air quality plans. This would not have happened without our legal case. But the government is not acting fast enough. That’s why we’re still fighting for a plan fit to tackle this public health crisis – and still breathing illegally dirty air.

Cyclists in London

Now we’re bringing the fight to Europe

We won ground-breaking court cases on air pollution in the UK. Now we’re bringing similar challenges across Europe. Our legal work across the continent is ongoing. Here is a snapshot of how we are working to improve air quality in diverse ways across the EU:

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