Government must now enshrine in UK law the WHO air pollution limits following the verdict in the inquest of Ella Kissi-Debrah

In a ground-breaking ruling, the coroner has today found that Ella Kissi-Debrah’s death in February 2013 was caused by acute respiratory failure, severe asthma and air pollution exposure.

Southwark Coroner's Court found that air pollution made a material contribution to Ella's death and has ruled in favour of her family. This is a legal first. The ruling highlights the dangers of everyday exposure to unhealthy levels of pollution in towns and cities across the UK, particularly for outdoor workers and children.

The British Safety Council urges the Government to fulfil its obligation to protect the right to breathe clean air. It can take positive action by enshrining into UK law, the World Health Organisation (WHO) exposure limits for the main air pollutants of nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and ozone.

The Environment Bill currently going through Parliament is an immediate opportunity to adopt these limits and make a legally binding commitment to improving public health and reducing the 40,000 lives lost due to air pollution each year across the country.

Mike Robinson, the British Safety Council’s Chief Executive, commented,

“Our thoughts are with Ella’s family at this time.  Ella’s tragic death could have been prevented had the Government taken firmer and earlier action to reduce air pollution levels. We have been highlighting for some time in our Time to Breathe campaign that outdoor air pollution is a major environmental risk to health, which today’s ruling acknowledges.

We are asking the Government to step up to its responsibilities for public health. The Environment Bill states that air quality is a priority, but this must be backed up with concrete policies and actions to ensure cleaner air in our cities and a healthier outdoor workforce.”