Chris Ames 17 December 2020

Air pollution contributed to Ella's death, coroner rules

Air pollution contributed to Ellas death, coroner rules image

A landmark judgement has determined that exposure to excessive air pollution, mainly from traffic emissions, contributed to the death of a nine-year-old girl from South London.

The finding came at the end of a second inquest into the death of Ella Adoo Kissi-Debrah, who died in Lewisham, South London in February 2013, having been exposed to illegal levels of air pollution for three years.

Deputy Coroner Philip Barlow listed the medical causes of Ella's death as acute respiratory failure, severe asthma and air pollution exposure and found that ‘air pollution was a significant contributory factor to both the induction and exacerbation of her asthma’.

His conclusion as to Ella’s cause of death was that she had ‘died of asthma contributed to by exposure to excessive air pollution’.

The ruling is believed to be the first time an inquest has reached such a conclusion.

Deputy Coroner Barlow noted that Ella, whose family lived near the South Circular Road, had been ‘exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in excess of World Health Organisation guidelines’, adding: ‘The principal source of her exposure was traffic emissions.’

He also described what he called a ‘recognised failure to reduce the level of NO2 to the limits set by EU and domestic law’, which he said ‘possibly contributed to her death’.

The law in question is the EU Air Quality Directive, which was incorporated into UK in 2010 and is still breached in cities across the country. However, the coroner’s comment is likely to reflect the fact that levels of NO2 emissions within the limits set by the directive will still cause significant health problems.

The coroner also noted that Ella’s mother Rosamund, who had campaigned to secure the new inquest ‘was not given information about the health risks of air pollution and its potential to exacerbate asthma’.

He added: ‘If she had been given this information she would have taken steps which might have prevented Ella’s death.’

In a statement, Damien Egan, mayor of Lewisham, and Cllr Sophie McGeevor, cabinet member for environment and transport, said: 'Our thoughts are with Rosamund and her family at this very difficult time. Rosamund’s campaign for clean air has been hugely impactful both locally and nationally in bringing awareness to the dangers of air pollution.

'We support her in continuing this fight and will do everything we can to enact and call for change – working with the Government and Transport for London to try to reduce the impact of traffic and air pollution on our community.

'Our hope is that today’s ruling is the evidence needed to effect lasting change, to finally secure a national commitment to tackling air pollution in a meaningful way.'

This article first appeared on Transport Network.

Meeting new planning requirements for trees image

Meeting new planning requirements for trees

Concrete block permeable paving offers an important opportunity to help satisfy the requirement for extensive tree planting and retention of existing trees in developments. Chris Hodson reports.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Director of Children's Safeguarding and Care 

Gloucestershire County Council
Up to £116,391, plus relocation support
We are looking to fill this vital role at a very important time for us.  Our children’s services team is on an important journey of... Gloucestershire
Recuriter: Gloucestershire County Council

Director of Adult Social Care (DASS)

Hull City Council
£98,166 - £98,166
We are now seeking to recruit an exceptional transformational leader to build on our existing success. Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
Recuriter: Hull City Council

Senior Building Surveyor

Bedford Borough Council
£34,728 - £36,880 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen following a comprehensive restructure of Economic Growth and Property. Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Senior Planning Officer

Three Rivers District Council
£30,451 to £33,782 (exc. LW)
We are looking to appoint a Senior Planning Officer. Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
Recuriter: Three Rivers District Council

Insurance Manager

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£43,833 to £53,115 per annum
An opportunity has arisen for a skilled and experienced insurance professional to lead a busy and friendly Insurance Team providing a... Wandsworth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue