Philip Barlow, deputy coroner for south London, said in his verdict on Wednesday that air pollution had made a “material contribution” to the death of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah in 2013, following a two-week investigation into the case.
From 2010 to 2013, Ella, who lived in south-east London, had been taken to hospital almost 30 times with breathing difficulties.
“Ella died of asthma from exposure to excessive air pollution,” said Barlow, following the ruling, which also recorded acute respiratory failure as a cause of death.
He added that she was exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) that exceeded World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines near her London home, which is located 30 meters from a major ring road often obstructed by heavy traffic.
“There was a recognized failure to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels, which may have contributed to his death,” Barlow said.
“There was also a lack of information given to Ella’s mother that may have contributed to her death.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan hailed Wednesday’s decision as a “historic moment” and said he was happy to have supported Ella’s family in their efforts to “ensure justice”.
“Today must now be a turning point,” Khan, who has been named as an interested party in the investigation, wrote on Twitter.
“Toxic air pollution is a public health crisis. Ministers and the former mayor have acted too slowly in the past, but now they must learn from the coroner’s decision and do much more to tackle the deadly scourge of air pollution in London and across the country.
An initial investigation in 2014 into Ella’s death revealed that she died of acute respiratory failure.
But that decision was overturned and a new hearing was ordered after a review of the case, in which pollution expert Stephen Holgate said he found a “striking association” between levels of NO2 and particulates. harmful when Ella was taken to hospital for treatment.
Holgate said Ella ‘lived on a knife edge’ due to her surroundings and the air quality in her neighborhood, which made her condition worse.
Winter air pollution worsened his asthma in the months leading up to his death, added Holgate, professor of immunopharmacology at the UK University of Southampton.