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20 top air quality influencers in 2021

The fight for clean air requires more than great technology and data to help improve air quality. Expressive personalities can also be the face of changes and effectively influence regulations and raise awareness of this problem. 

Here are 20 influencers – activists, journalists and scientists from all around the world that we think are effectively making the topic of air pollution important and widely discussed.

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi Debrah

A grassroots activist from London, UK raising awareness of asthma and the health problems that can be caused by air pollution. Kissi-Debrah’s campaign for clean air followed the death of her 9 year old daughter, Ella Roberta, who had experienced a series of severe asthma attacks over several years. Her campaign led to an inquest in 2020, where a ruling determined that pollution from the South Circular Road, London was a contributing factor to Ella Roberta’s death.

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi Debrah on Twitter

Simon Birkett

A former banker who left the financial industry more than 10 years ago and dedicated himself to the fight for clean air. The founder and director of Clean Air in London – an organization that has been successfully influencing the policy of the British government and local governments regarding pollution standards and the fight to improve air quality for many years.

Simon Birkett on Twitter

Sotirios Papathanasiou

Author of the See The Air blog and the podcast of the same title. In addition, the author of books on air pollution – “See The Air”, as well as books for children explaining the basics of air pollution. Very active on social media, especially on Twitter, where he publishes his thoughts and interesting content on air pollution.

Sotirios Papathanasiou on Twitter

Dr Maria Neira

A Spanish physician, international civil servant and diplomat, who has since 2005, served as the Director of the Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health Department (PHE) of the World Health Organization (WHO). Very committed and actively working to improve air quality around the world, especially within the most vulnerable populations.

Dr Maria Neira on Twitter

Jemima Viven

Lawyer/human rights activist, founder of Mums for Lungs. London based group of parents seriously concerned about air pollution’s impact on children’s health.

Jemima Viven on Twitter

Damian Carrington

“The Guardian” environment editor.  One of the most influential and inquisitive reporters on air pollution issues around the world. Very often his texts shed light on the pollution problems in Great Britain and around the world.

Damian Carrington on Twitter

Simon Evans

Deputy Editor and Policy Editor Carbon Brief – Award-winning website focused on  climate change, science, energy and policy.

Simon Evans on Twitter

Beth Gardiner

American journalist based in London. Author of “Choked” – bestselling air pollution book. A journalist writing for NY Times, The Guardian and more. Her in-depth story on  air pollution has become the cover story for global “The National Geographic” in the spring of 2021.

Beth Gardiner on Twitter

Jyoti Pande Lavakare

Writer, economic and financial journalist, columnist, producer of radio programmes, with special interest in innovations in education, sustainable environment, affordable healthcare. Author of the book about air pollution in India – “Breathing Here Is Injurious To Your Health”.

Jyoti Pande Lavakare on LinkedIn

Tim Smedley

Environment journalist for The Financial Times, BBC, The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times, New Scientist and more.  His first book Clearing the Air: the Beginning and the End of Air Pollution, published by Bloomsbury’s Sigma Science, was shortlisted for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2019. Right now Tim Smedley is working on his second book, The Last Drop: Solving the World’s Water Crisis, to be published by Picador in spring 2022.

Tim Smedley on Twitter

Jane Burston

Jane Burston is the Executive Director of the Clean Air Fund and previously was the Head of Energy and the Environment at the National Physical Laboratory. She led a team of 150 scientists and engineers researching new energy technologies, emission measurements, as well as monitoring the climate and air pollution. Jane has spoken at Davos and the UN General Assembly. She has been interviewed about air pollution and the movement for clean air by the New York Times, BBC, Times Radio and for numerous podcasts.

Jane Burston on Twitter

Sadiq Khan

The current mayor of London places great emphasis on making the city a green metropolis setting the standards for reducing emissions of pollutants for the whole world. Khan calls air pollution “an urgent issue of social justice” and described tackling the problem as “a matter of life and death”.

Sadiq Khan on Twitter

Gary Fuller

Dr Gary Fuller is an air pollution scientist at Imperial College London. His research interests focus on urban air pollution. Author of “The Invisible Killer –  the rising global threat of air pollution” book.

Gary Fuller on Twitter

James Thornton

An environmental lawyer and writer. He is the founding CEO of ClientEarth, a global non-profit environmental law organisation. “We started with one lawyer and his laptop in 2007. Now we are over 200 people, with eight offices around the world, creating powerful change for life on Earth” – we read on the ClientEarth’s website.

James Thornton on Twitter

Angel Hsu

Angel Hsu is a professor and data geek who applies data-driven methods to solve challenging environmental issues. Hsu founded and directs the Data-Driven EnviroLab, an international team of interdisciplinary researchers, scientists, programmers and visual designers who work collaboratively around the world to create new knowledge and policy tools designed to make the world greener and healthier.

Angel Hsu on Twitter

Jeffrey K. Smith

WHO consultant and environmental health solutionist. Air Quality Monitoring expert and clean, renewable energy advocate. Pro bono environmental health advisor to organizations driving solutions to the most vulnerable. Having witnessed the hazards of air and water pollution within his own family whilst his daughter was hospitalized in 2008

Jeffrey K. Smith on Twitter

Mike Bloomberg

Bloomberg Philanthropies, of which Bloomberg is the founder, focuses on numerous activities to improve air quality around the world. Bloomberg Philanthropies funded a large part of the new air monitoring system in London. It has also established cooperation with Brussels Clean Air Partnership with whom they willingly implement a wide range of projects to support policy to reduce air pollution, including the use of low-cost monitoring devices to provide critical data.

Mike Bloomberg on Twitter

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg is a climate and environmental activist from Sweden. In 2018, she started a global school strike movement to protest against governments’ inaction on the climate crisis. Although Greta’s actions relate to broadly understood climate change, part of them is just care for clean air. The huge interest in Thunberg’s activities has also contributed significantly to the serious attention to be paid to air quality problems around the world.

Greta Thunberg on Twitter

Dr. Shelly Miller

A Professor of Mechanical Engineering and faculty in the Environmental Engineering Program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Miller teaches about and investigates urban air quality and works diligently to understand the impact of air pollution on public health and the environment. She is also an expert on indoor environmental quality including airborne infectious disease transmission and control and air cleaning technologies.

Dr. Shelly Miller on Twitter

Sonja Graham

Sonja is CEO at Global Action Plan, a sustainability charity that helps people live more sustainable lifestyles by making connections between what’s good for people and good for the planet. This includes their Clean Air movement which mobilises and enables people and organisations to act on air pollution. The charity has worked on many public facing initiatives such as Clean Air Day, the UK’s largest air pollution campaign, the Clean Air Hub – the UK’s go-to-public information source on air pollution, and the world’s first personal air pollution calculator.

Sonja Graham on Twitter


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