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Nine-Year-Old Becomes First Person In UK With Air Pollution On Death Certificate

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, a nine-year-old girl, passed away in 2013. She died following an asthma attack. Tragedies like this, unfortunately, happen all the time.

What makes her story so important is that the coroner reported that air pollution "made a material contribution" to her death. The coroner determined that she had been exposed to "excessive" levels of pollution.

Ella grew up in Lewisham, south-east London.

For years before her death, she experienced medical issues. She had multiple seizures and had already been admitted to the hospital almost 30 times. After her death, the level of pollution around her home was measured.

Philip Barlow, the coroner, found that the levels of nitrogen dioxide near her home exceeded those recommended by the World Health Organization. Air pollution is known to be particularly dangerous for children with asthma.

The coroner made a landmark ruling.

Barlow said in his verdict:

"There was a recognised failure to reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide, which possibly contributed to her death. There was also a lack of information given to Ella's mother that possibly contributed to her death. [...] I will conclude that Ella died of asthma, contributed to by exposure to excessive air pollution."

A government spokesperson announced plans to deal with the pollution.

It was announced that:

“We are delivering a £3.8bn plan to clean up transport and tackle NO2 pollution, and going further in protecting communities from air pollution, particularly PM2.5 pollution, which we know is particularly harmful to people’s health. Through our landmark environment bill, we are also setting ambitious new air-quality targets, with a primary focus on reducing public health impacts.”

Rosamund Kissi-Debra, Ella's mother, is calling for public awareness.

She said after the ruling:

"We've got the justice for her which she so deserved. [..] Her legacy would be 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."

Only time will tell if real action will be taken.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London says:

"Today must be a turning point so that other families do not have to suffer the same heartbreak as Ella's family. Ministers and the previous mayor have acted too slowly in the past, but they must now learn the lessons from the coroner's ruling."

Let's hope no one else's child has to die before real action is taken.

h/t: BBC

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