Green, Health - Asthma Death Linked To Air Pollution
A UK government health advisor is for the first time linking a nine-year-old girl's fatal asthma attack to illegally high levels of air pollution near her home.
London's South Circular Road is a notorious pollution "hotspot" where particulate matter in the air often breaches European Union legal limits. Young Ella Kissi-Debrah lived just 25 meters from the road. Over the past three years, she endured several seizures and more than two dozen hospital stays because of her asthma.
One of the UK's leading experts on Air pollution Professor Stephen Holgate wrote a report noting the "striking association" between Ella's emergency hospital admissions and recorded spikes in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PM10s, the most noxious pollutants.
Professor Holgate chaired the government's advisory committee on the effects of air pollution. His report said, "Unlawful levels of air pollution contributed to the cause and seriousness of Ella's asthma in a way that greatly compromised her quality of life and was causative of her fatal asthma attack." Ella died died after one of the "worst air pollution episodes in her locality". Holgate said there was a "real prospect that without unlawful levels of air pollution, Ella would not have died".
"It doesn't make sense that so much information is now available about the health impact of air pollution and the link to thousands of the deaths in the UK and yet there has been, as yet, no direct link made to an individual death," said Human rights lawyer Jocelyn Cockburn who is representing Ella's family. "Ella's case illustrates the hard-hitting human impact of air pollution."
Ms. Cockburn will submit the Holgate report to the attorney general to re-open an inquest in to Ella's death.
"I need to find out for myself why she died and what the causes are," said Ella's mother Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah. "I need this for my other children, in order to protect their health."