A coroner has ruled that London’s air pollution contributed to the death of a nine-year-old girl.
Ella Kissi-Debrah died following an asthma attack in February 2013. Ella lived close to the South Circular Road in Lewisham – one of the capital’s most congested roads.
She had made almost 30 hospital visits over the previous three years before her death. Following the coroners ruling at a second inquest, it is thought to be the first time air pollution has been listed on a death certificate.
The ruling from her first inquest in 2014 was that Ella died of ‘acute respiratory failure’ but this was overturned by the High Court. They overruled it after new evidence from an air monitoring station that showed pollution was “consistently over legal limits”.
Ella’s mother Rosamund Kissi-Debrah said: “Yes, this was about my daughter, getting air pollution on the death certificate which we finally have, and we’ve got the justice for her which she so deserved”
“But also it’s about other children still as we walk around our city of high levels of air pollution.”
Simon Birkett is the Founder and Director of Clean Air in London. He proposes new legislation should be brought in, called ‘Ella’s Law’.
He says: “We need new duties and powers for the Government, Metro Mayors and local authorities to work together to reduce air pollution from traffic and buildings and take action when air pollution exceeds World Health Organisation guidelines.”
Assistant Coroner Phillip Barlow said vital information wasn’t given to Ella’s mother. He said: “Ella’s mother was not given information about the health risks of air pollution and its potential to exacerbate asthma. If she had been given this information she would have taken steps which might have prevented Ella’s death.”
He gave his findings at Southwark Coroner’s Court after a two-week inquest. Over the course of an hour he gave his conclusion.
The coroner said: “I will conclude that Ella died of asthma, contributed to by exposure to excessive air pollution.”
Images via Alamy