A question of rights
impact on health
The right to clean air
Both the UN and the EU champion our right to clean air. What’s more, we have a right to information about the air we breathe.
According to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family.”
EU citizens have the legal right to clean air and to live in an environment that allows them to ensure their health and well-being. In Spain, Royal Decree 102/2011 on the improvement of air quality, which incorporates a European directive, establishes the limit values for PM10 and PM 2.5 particles.
In addition, according to the Aarhus Convention (June 25, 1998), we have a duty, both individually and in association with others, to protect and improve the environment in the interests of present and future generations.
But, also according to the Convention, in order to be able to assert this right and fulfill this duty, citizens must have access to information.
The right to access air quality information is a prerequisite for the right to clean air: unless people know that there is an air quality problem, unless they understand the risk it poses to their health and are informed about the measures being taken to improve it, they are powerless to act.
The Convention also emphasizes the importance of widespread public awareness of environmental issues. It therefore imposes on public authorities the obligation to actively disseminate “environmental information” and also to make it available to the public when requested.