With 6 million people a year dying due to air pollution, and 300,000 of those people in the EU, we need to ask politicians to step up and make changes. We believe that everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air. Whilst we are going to be working hard to ensure that we are heard by decision makers globally, we need you to help us make as much noise as possible. That is why we have created this page of resources to help you become a clean air advocate.

In the EU, we are focusing on building support for the EU’s Ambient Air Quality Directive. This directive can make a real change to the levels of air pollution across Europe, and we need to make sure governments understand that this is what the public want. The European Parliament and the European Council have now agreed on the terms of the Directive and it will be voted on soon. Please contact your MEP to tell them that you support the new measures which reduce air pollution.

Globally, there are many actions taking place as people work to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality for everyone. Please contact local decisions makers and use your social media to bring awareness to the need for clean air for all.

Below you will find information on how air pollution impacts lung health as well as the tools you need to advocate for your own health. Please use them and share them. Organisations are also welcome to take these materials and make them their own.

Air pollution infographic

Send a letter to your politician

We have created template letters that you can send to your local representative to make them aware of the importance of clean air for lung health.

For those within the EU, this letter specifically addresses the Ambient Air Quality Directive.

We have also created a list of the Members of European Parliament including their contact details.

For those outside the EU, we have a more general template letter that emphasises how air quality can affect lung health.

Download the template letter here (EU)

Social media messages

Support our campaign to #BreatheCleanAir on social media. We have created a social media pack with some draft messages and images for you to share.

Download the social media pack here

What is the Ambient Air Quality Directive?

In October 2022 the European Commission proposed a revision of the current Ambient Air Quality Directives to align European standards with the World Health Organization Guidelines and continue to work towards a very important goal: achieving zero air pollution by 2050.  

Why is this important? 

Air pollution is the greatest environmental threat to health and every European citizen is exposed to it. Only in 2020, more than 311,000 premature deaths were caused by exposure to air pollution levels in the EU. 

What are the consequences? 

Through the years it has been proved that air pollution causes several chronic diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancers.  

But this is not all. It has also been shown that pre-natal and early-life exposure to air pollution can lead to severe consequences, including the development of asthma in children in urban areas when exposed long term to NO2.  

There are likely associations with many other diseases and complications throughout a lifetime. Some examples are diabetes, low birth weight, preterm births, cognitive decline and dementia, Parkinson’s disease, impaired cognitive development in children, and mental health outcomes throughout the lifetime. 

What does this mean? 

The effects of air pollution on health can lead to sick days, doctor visits, need for medication and hospital care, high costs related to health care, loss in productivity, and reducing people’s quality of life. 

It is unavoidable for all Europeans to be exposed and affected by air pollution and there are disproportionately high effects for sensitive and vulnerable social groups with pre-existing conditions.  

Moreover, polluted air also harms the environment causing acidification, eutrophication and damage to forests, ecosystems and crops. 

The new Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD) aims to ensure that people can be healthier, live a better quality of life and be compensated if suffering health damages from air pollution following a violation of EU air quality rules.  

The proposal will also bring more clarity on access to justice, effective penalties, and better public information on air quality. New legislation will support local authorities by strengthening the provisions on air quality monitoring, modelling, and improved air quality plans. 

Useful texts: 

European Environment Agency, ‘Premature deaths due to air pollution continue to fall in the EU, more efforts needed to deliver a toxic-free environment’, 2022 

World Health Organization, Global Air Quality Guidelines, 2021 

  1. To, J. Zhu et al., ‘Early life exposure to air pollution and incidence of childhood asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema’, European Respiratory Journal, 2020
  2. Bettiol, E. Gelain et al., ‘The first 1000 days of life: traffic-related air pollution and development of wheezing and asthma in childhood. A systematic review of birth cohort studies’, Environmental Health, 2021

Thurston GD, Kipen H, Annesi-Maesano I, Balmes J, Brook RD, Cromar K, et al. A joint ERS/ATS policy statement: what constitutes an adverse health effect of air pollution? An analytical framework. Eur Respir J. 2017;49(1) 

B.Hoffman, B. Brunekreef, Z.J. Andersen, F.Forastiere, H.Boogaard, ‘Benefits of future clean air policies in Europe: Proposed analyses of the mortality impacts of Pm2.5 and NO2’, Environmental Epidemiology, 2022