United Kingdom

Tough new air pollution laws to be introduced after tragic death of Ella, 9, from asthma attack

Tougher air pollution laws will be brought in after the death of a girl from an asthma attack caused by traffic fumes – but won't take effect until next year at the earliest.

A Southwark coroner ruled in December that air pollution – including illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide – contributed to the 2013 death of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, nine, who lived 80ft from the South Circular road in Lewisham, south-east London.

As part of the ruling, he asked the Government to explain how it would prevent future deaths – leading to yesterday's pledge from ministers to set aside an extra £6million for local authorities to improve air quality and raise public awareness.

Tougher air pollution laws will be brought in after the death of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah from an asthma attack

But yesterday Ella's mother Rosamund said she was 'sad and disappointed' over the wait for new legal limits, which could be brought in by October 2022 following a consultation in the new year. She added: 'Why do we have to wait 16 months for these changes to take effect? We need action now. What about the children who will die in the interim?'

Environment Secretary George Eustice said that the new targets would be 'informed' by more stringent World Health Organisation standards.

The coroner's report, following a second inquest which ruled that air pollution contributed to Ella's death, called for legally binding goals for dangerous pollutant particulate matter (PM2.5) that are in line with WHO guidelines.

Assistant coroner Philip Barlow also said local and national governments should address the lack of public awareness about pollution information.

Ella's mother Rosamund (pictured) said she was 'sad and disappointed' over the wait for new legal limits, which could be brought in by October 2022

The Government's response to the report said immediate action would be taken to raise public awareness about air pollution.

It is also working on a 'more sophisticated' population exposure reduction target which aims to drive reductions not just in pollution 'hotspots', but in all areas, officials said.

The NHS in England will also work on a more systematic approach to asthma management, including identifying environmental triggers and promoting more personalised care for individual patients.

Mr Eustice said: 'Ella's death was a tragedy and I would like to pay tribute to her family and friends who have campaigned so tirelessly on this issue, and continue to do so.

'Today's response is part of a much wider cross-Government effort to drive forward tangible and long-lasting changes to improve the air we breathe, as well as doing more to inform the public about the risks.'

He said air pollution levels had reduced since 2010, but said: 'We know that there is more to do, which is why we are setting new legally-binding targets on particulate matter pollution and building on our Clean Air Strategy to accelerate action to clean up our air.'

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