Media alert: 18 November 2022
Italian mother joins EU air pollution fight, sues government for son’s right to healthy air
What: A mother from Turin, Italy, is taking legal action against the regional government for failing to protect her son’s health against toxic air pollution. The case follows similar citizen-led air pollution cases launched in the last two months in Germany and Belgium.
Chiara joins parents across Europe fighting to protect their children against harmful levels of air pollution – which authorities have a legal duty to tackle. Failure to act breaches their fundamental right to breathe clean and healthy air and puts their health and their children’s health at unnecessary risk.
Chiara is demanding that the court recognise her son’s right to breathe clean and healthy air and hold the regional authorities accountable for the damage breathing illegally polluted air has done to her son’s health. She is also demanding that the court orders the Piedmont region to take immediate action to reduce illegal levels of air pollution as soon as possible, as required by Italian and EU laws.
Who: Chiara and her partner are taking legal action on behalf of their six-year-old son, who suffers from lung problems, asthma, and recurrent infections. They are suing the authorities of the region of Piedmont, as the competent authority for air quality management in the area.
For privacy reasons, especially for their son’s privacy, the family has chosen to only share the mother’s first name.
The family’s legal action is being supported by environmental law organisation ClientEarth and the citizen-led committee Torino Respira.
Where: The action is being filed in the Civil Court of Turin.
When: Friday, 18 November 2022.
Why: According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), Turin is one of the most polluted cities in Italy. At European level, Italy is one of the most polluted countries within the bloc, with Turin ranked the third most polluted city in Europe for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels.
Italy charts levels of air pollution that have systematically and persistently exceeded current EU thresholds since 2005. The Piedmont region is not aiming to achieve compliance before 2030. At the end of last year, The World Health Organization (WHO) tightened its recommendations on what is acceptable, in response to new findings on the harm air pollution does. This means that Italians are being exposed to pollution in quantities four to five times higher than what the world’s leading scientists have deemed safe to breathe.
In Italy, the EEA estimates that there are 10,640 premature deaths linked to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and 49,900 linked to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) each year. These are, respectively, the worst and second worst figures at EU level.
Air pollution can be linked to asthma attacks, cancers, heart attacks and strokes with an increasing number of studies showing how it can also affect other parts of our bodies and even foetuses.
Quote from Chiara: “I’m taking this legal action for my son, for me and for all the other people, who are not always aware of this huge problem. I don't want other children to have to go through what happened to my son."
More information and Italian press release: The Italian press release is available here. If you have questions or would like to speak to Chiara or her lawyers, please contact Paolo Riva: +39 335 8703 065; firstname.lastname@example.org
ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.