The World Health Organization reports that air pollution causes approximately seven million deaths per year, a terrible burden that affects all countries but disproportionately harms low- and middle-income States, mainly in Asia and Africa. These preventable deaths are caused in roughly equal proportions by ambient (outdoor) air pollution, produced by industry and motor vehicles, and household (indoor) air pollution, produced by cooking, heating, and lighting with polluting fuels.
Yet the right to clean air seems to have garnered far less academic, political, and legal attention than the right to water. Could political and legal recognition of the right to breathe clean air serve as a catalyst for improvements in air quality? If so, what types of laws and policies might prove effective in achieving cleaner air for all, and especially the most vulnerable individuals and communities?