Inquest into the death of Ella Adoo Kissi-Debrah
21st January 2021
This inquest was the first to record air pollution as a medical cause of death. Ella, who suffered from asthma, died in February 2013 at the age of 9 of acute respiratory failure. The inquest considered issues including how air pollution levels were monitored at the time; the steps taken to reduce air pollution and the information provided to the public about the level of air pollution, its dangers and ways to reduce exposure.
The Interested Persons were Ella’s family, Lewisham Council, the Mayor of London and TfL and central government (Defra, DHSC and DfT). The two-week inquest was heard by Philip Barlow, Assistant Coroner for London Inner South. He gave a narrative conclusion finding that air pollution was a significant factor to both the induction and exacerbations of her asthma. During the course of her illness between 2010 and 2013 she was exposed to levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter in excess of World Health Organisation Guidelines. The principal source of her exposure was traffic emissions. During this period there was a recognised failure to reduce the level of NO2 to within the limits set by EU and domestic law which possibly contributed to her death.
Fiona Canby represented the Mayor of London and TfL