London, December 17
In a first in the UK and potentially the world, a British court made legal history after ruling air pollution as one of the causes of the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi Debrah.
Following the ruling on Wednesday, it will now be stated in her death certificate that she died from the following causes: acute respiratory failure, severe asthma and air pollution exposure.
The coroner found that air pollution levels near Ella’s home near a busy road in London exceeded the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines.
The principal source of her exposure was traffic emissions.
It stated that there was a recognised failure to reduce the level of NO2 that possibly contributed to her death.
He also recognised the lack of information given to Ella’s mother, which possibly contributed to her death.
Ella’s mother, Rosamund, gave evidence during the inquest and said her daughter had been taken to the hospital about 28 times during her life after suffering acute asthma attacks and seizures.
Hours before she died in February 2013, Rosamund said she had read to Ella in bed after the family had eaten a meal together on Valentine’s Day evening.
“I had printed off Beethoven’s love letters that day, so that was the last thing I read to her.” A few hours later her daughter woke and needed her asthma pump. She woke again struggling to breathe and her mother called an ambulance that took her to Lewisham hospital, where her condition deteriorated.
“I begged the consultant, I knew we were in trouble,” her mother said.
But they were unable to save her daughter, she told the inquest.
Ella was declared dead at 3.27 a.m. on February 15.
Studies say 93 per cent of the world’s children under the age of 15 breathe bad air and researchers have found that air pollutants can breach a mother’s placenta and potentially reach foetuses in the womb.
The WHO estimates that in 2016, 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by bad air.
Currently, half the world does not have access to the necessary data to address the health threat while countries with air pollution laws regularly breach them.
In response to the ruling, Rosamund said: “Today was a landmark case, a seven-year fight has resulted in air pollution being recognised on Ella’s death certificate.
“Hopefully this will mean many more children’s lives being saved. Thank you everyone for your continued support.” –IANS