The Human Right to Breathe Clean Air


Five national academies of science and medicine-from Brazil, Germany, South Africa, and the United States-issued a powerful statement about air pollution’s immense impacts on public health. The statement concluded that the evidence linking air pollution and adverse health effects is unequivocal, the costs are enormous and yet the problem is preventable. However it is insufficient to treat clean air as a policy objective. It must be regarded as a fundamental human right, related to the rights of life, health, and a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The human rights perspective changes everything, because governments have clear, legally enforceable obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.


Boyd DR. The Human Right to Breathe Clean Air. Annals of Global Health. 2019; 85(1): 146, 1–2. DOI:


David R Boyd

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