Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah makes legal history as first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death – Alan Payne QC appeared on behalf of DEFRA at the Inquest

17 December 2020

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who suffered from asthma, died in February 2013 at the age of 9 of acute respiratory failure. The first inquest, which occurred in 2014, concluded that respiratory failure had possibly been triggered by “something in the air”. In light of new evidence the ruling of the first inquest was quashed by the High Court and a new inquest began 2 weeks ago. 

This second inquest, in which Alan Payne QC appeared on behalf of DEFRA and other Government departments, concluded yesterday. The coroner delivered his conclusion that air pollution was a significant contributory factor in Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s death. He recorded that Ella was exposed to levels of PM and NOx pollution above WHO and EU guidelines near her home in London. 

The coroner said the health effects of air pollution had been known for many years, and children and those with asthma were particularly at risk. He found that air pollution both induced and exacerbated Ella’s particular form of severe asthma. 

Ella’s case makes legal history because she is the first person in the UK to have ‘air pollution’ listed as a cause of death. 

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