Death of asthmatic nine year old girl linked to dirty air



Illegal pollution levels on the South Circular Road may have contributed to the death of a nine-year-old girl, a government health expert has found.

Ella Kissi-Debrah, pictured, who lived in Hither Green just yards from the South Circular, died of a severe asthma attack in 2013 after battling the condition for three years.

She was taken to the hospital 27 times and coughed herself into a coma four times.

Her mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, said the condition came out of nowhere as Ella was a very active girl who had been scouted to play football for Millwall.

She is now appealing to the attorney general to reopen the inquest into her daughter’s death in the light of fresh evidence provided by a top government scientist.

A report by professor Stephen Holgate, of the Medical Research Council, found that it is “a real prospect that without unlawful levels of air pollution Ella would not have died”.

Ms Kissi-Deborah is now calling on parents to band together to save their children from the “silent killer”.

She said: “No matter what happens now it is too late for her.

I want her legacy to improve the lives of children that live in London.

“If we are successful with the inquest, it will help other children and that’s all that matters now. People need to understand that it is a killer.

We need action now. Not tomorrow, not in a week, now.”

Professor Holgate’s report could be the expert new evidence required for an inquest to be reopened by the Attorney General.

Ms Kissi-Deborah said: “There are children who actually live on the South Circular. I don’t want to put fear in mothers or fathers who live in Brownhill Road.

“I want them to come out and take action. Parents’ voices are very powerful. The more parents who are very vocal, the more something is going to be done about it.”

If Ella’s death is directly linked to air pollution it will set a legal precedent.

In the report Professor Holgate used data from pollution monitoring stations to note that pollution levels “along the South Circular (and in particular on the Catford roundabout) are well above the limit.”

This was also the case on the day Ella died.

Human rights lawyer Jocelyn Cockburn, who has represented Ms Kissi-Deborah for the past four years, said: “Ella’s case illustrates the hard-hitting human impact of air pollution.

“The government has willingly presided over illegal EU air quality limits since 2010. “There needs to be an immediate sea change in how air pollution is dealt with in our cities.”

We contacted the department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs for a comment but they directed us to the attorney general’s office.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said: “The attorney general expresses his sincere sympathies to Ella Kissi-Debrah’s family.

I can confirm that an application for approval to apply for a fresh inquest has been received by the attorney general’s office regarding Ella’s case and we will review the evidence.”

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