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Riverside, Calif. (Sept. 3, 2015) – A civil engineering graduate from the Gordon and Jill Bourns College of Engineering launched a global campaign this summer to make clean air a basic human right.

Pedro Piqueras ('13) won a "Millennium Health Prize" from Millennium Campus Network (MCN) for his clean air campaign. As a result, he was given the opportunity to officially launch his campaign at the 7th Annual Millennium Campus Conference, a program of MCN, held Aug. 11 to 15, attended by students and politicians from more than 50 nations at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

Piqueras' campaign, "fAIR4all," is aimed at raising awareness of the health risk of air pollution. He wanted the conference participants to educate others and to take action, whether through creating laws or partnerships with non-governmental organizations. The end goal, he said, is for the UN to establish clean air as a basic human right.  

"Until that is done, governments are not going to be forced to fix it or educate. Clean water is a basic human right, and since it is, governments are enforced to implement water projects," Piqueras said. "By having that minimum standard in a global aspect, it would really encourage governments to do something about it."   

He is studying air pollution as he pursues his doctorate degree in chemical and environmental engineering at University of California, Riverside.

Piqueras said he became interested in the subject when he learned how many people die from air pollution-related causes annually. According to the World Health Organization, seven million people died as a result of air pollution exposure in 2012. 

The campaign includes a monthly webinar, an email newsletter and a Facebook page. Piqueras encourages others to join. 

"Unless somebody does something about it, nothing's going to get done," he said. "I definitely want to make the world a better place." 

Piqueras said CBU professors encouraged him and his fellow students to have a global perspective.

"They taught us it's not just about making money, it's about how you can help the world become a better place," he said. "They definitely taught me to think like that, to think in a global perspective, especially when it came to people in need in developing countries."