Pollution inquest: Did a 9-year-old girl die from toxic London air?

(Reuters, 7 Dec 2020) A verdict that blamed Ella Kissi-Debrah's death on air pollution would be a global first, the family's lawyers say.

Did air pollution kill a nine-year-old asthmatic girl from south London? That is what a coroner's court must decide this week in a case that could pressure the British government to do more to tackle airborne pollutants.

While scientists and international bodies say air pollution causes millions of early deaths every year, an inquest verdict that blamed Ella Kissi-Debrah's 2013 death on air pollution would be a global first, according to her family's lawyers.

The Southwark Coroner's court is expected to give a verdict on Friday.

What implications could this have in Britain and around the world?

Why is the inquest being held?

Kissi-Debrah's family pushed for a second inquest into her death, arguing that an initial inquest in 2014 failed to consider air pollution as a possible cause.

They said there was evidence to link Kissi-Debrah's hospital visits to illegal levels of air pollution near her home in Lewisham in south London. 

"She had no choice but to breathe the dirty air around her," said Katie Nield, lawyer at environmental law charity ClientEarth, which helped Kissi-Debrah's legal team gather evidence for the inquest.

External link

Reuters, 7 Dec 2020: Pollution inquest: Did a 9-year-old girl die from toxic London air?