Ella’s mum calls for new law to protect children from toxic fumes

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah who, aged nine, was the first person in the world to have air pollution listed as a cause of death. Image by kind permission of The Ella Roberta Family Foundation

The mother of a London girl who died from air pollution exposure has called for a new international law that forces governments to clean up the environment for future generations.

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah’s remarks come after a coroner made legal history on Wednesday by ruling that illegal levels of pollution, predominantly caused by traffic emissions, caused her daughter Ella’s death.

As reported yesterday, Philip Barlow, the inner south London coroner, said the nine-year-old, who died in 2013, was exposed to nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM) pollution in excess of European Union and World Health Organisation standards. It is believed the ruling is the first in the world to identify air pollution as a cause of death.

‘We’ve got the justice which she so deserved’

Ms Kissi-Debrah said after the ruling: “We’ve got the justice for her which she so deserved.

“I think that it would be a fitting legacy, to bring in a new Clean Air Act and for governments – I’m not just talking about the UK government – governments around the world to take this matter seriously. “My biggest desire is to prevent future deaths, anything that saves future lives I am going to be in support of.”

The ruling concludes a years-long campaign by Ms Kissi-Debrah to have her daughter’s death examined by a second coroner.

Ella lived within 25 metres of the south circular road in Lewisham, a busy London arterial road, and other high-traffic routes. The coroner ruled that high nitrogen dioxide levels exacerbated Ella’s severe asthma. He said the “recognised failure” of governments to bring pollution down to safe levels had likely contributed to her death.

‘A canary in the coal mine’

“The whole of Ella’s life was lived in close proximity to highly polluting roads,” Mr Barlow said. “I have no difficulty in concluding that her personal exposure to nitrogen dioxide and PM was very high.”

Professor Stephen Holgate, a respiratory expert from the University of Southampton, testified at the inquest that the toxic air Ella was exposed to at her home caused her final acute asthma attack in 2013.

He said the nine-year-old was a “canary in the coal mine”, signalling the risk to other Londoners.

Copy courtesy of The National

Author: Simon Weedy

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.