Chart-topping musician joins calls for clean air charter after nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah’s death

A chart-topping musician has joined calls for a clean air charter after a schoolgirl died as a result of pollution in Lewisham.

Love Ssega, who once fronted international band Clean Bandit, described the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah as ‘appalling’ and said more needs to be done to tackle air pollution.

It comes as the coroner who ruled that air pollution contributed to Ella’s today urged the government to set much tougher legally binding pollution limits based on World Health Organisation guidelines.

The Prevent Future Deaths report from Philip Barlow, assistant coroner for Inner South London, said Ella’s fatal asthma attack revealed a much wider threat and that action was needed to prevent further deaths.

Ssega said: “It is appalling that a beautiful nine-year-old girl has had to die before action has been taken on tackling the scourge of toxic air in poor Black neighbourhoods

“I grew up in the same area as Ella, I also went to a primary school near a Red Route her death affected me and the people of my community very deeply.

“I fully support calls to create Ella’s law which will mean firm action against toxic fumes from traffic near primary schools and more power in the hands of local authorities.

“The evidence clearly shows a direct link between Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) neighbourhoods and health problems associated with and caused by high levels of toxic air.

“The Covid-19 pandemic crisis and the disproportionate impact on unrepresented communities has really brought this issue to the forefront.

“What factors contribute to the heightened impact on BAME communities? Well, we can see what the science tells us about child asthma admissions, we know Covid impacts the lungs – the link is clear.”

“The evidence clearly shows a direct link between black neighbourhoods and health problems associated with and caused by high levels of toxic air.”

Research by Environmental Defense Fund Europe (EDF) show dangerous nitrogen dioxide pollution produced by traffic is up to 31 per cent higher in areas where people from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds are most likely to live.

In Lewisham, children under nine more 40 per cent more likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma than the national average.

That figure jumps to 78 per cent more likely for children under 19.

Ssega is among a host of artist and campaigners creating personal works in response to the growing concerns over climate change. 

The multi-art project was commissioned by Season for Change who have planned a host of UK-wide cultural events ahead of UN climate change conference, held in the UK in November.

Season for Change will also run a conversation-starting billboard campaign in Lewisham highlighting the impact of toxic air on Black communities.



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