Mother wins right to take air pollution inquest to high court

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The Attorney General has given his backing for a new inquest into a young girl’s death, which, if conclusive, would be the first time air pollution is cited as a cause of death.

Clean air campaigner, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah won the support for her campaign in the name of her daughter, Ella, who died aged 9 from asthma. It reached over 177,000 signatures and gained support from senior experts in the field, including Professor Stephen Holgate of the British Medical Research Council, who linked 27 out of 28 of Ella’s hospital admissions to spikes in London’s air pollution.

Writing on the petition website, she said: “Having the effects of air pollution recorded on her death certificate would be a legal first. It would send a clear message to our government that they must tackle the deadly impact of air pollution.”

Ella was a healthy child, but became ill in 2010, when she developed coughing syncope, a condition that long distance lorry drivers get. She was diagnosed with asthma, eventually having to carry a portable nebuliser by her side in an attempt to control her illness.

After a long battle, she died on 15 February 2013. Speaking at Hazards AGM on 12 December last year, Rosamund said: “At Ella’s inquest I learned that my daughter had one of the worst cases of asthma in the UK. I wept when the pathologist told me the state of her lungs.”

“X-Rays didn’t show it up. The coroner concluded respiratory failure and the triggers were to do with ‘something in the air’. That is where my journey started. I promised her when she was alive to do everything I can to get to the bottom of this.”

Although attorney general, Sir Geoffrey Cox, has backed a new inquest, Rosamund now needs to convince the High Court to quash the original inquest and order a new one.

She is seeking funding for legal representation: “Your support could mean the difference between life and death for other children and adults living in our polluted cities.”

For more information and to support Rosumund's campaign visit

British Safety Council has announced its new air pollution awareness campaign, Time to Breathe to protect outdoor workers. Find out more here

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, whose daughter Ella died in 2013, speaking at Hazards AGM


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