Air pollution a cause of UK girl's death, finds global landmark ruling

Coroner: Ella Kissi-Debrah died as a result of asthma worsened by exposure to excessive air pollution.

London (CNN)A 9-year-old girl who died after an asthma attack is thought to be the first person in the world to have air pollution listed as a cause of death in a landmark coroner's ruling.

Ella Kissi-Debrah lived in Lewisham, southeast London, near one of the UK capital's busiest roads, the South Circular. She died in hospital in February 2013 after suffering a cardiac arrest from which she could not be resuscitated, the coroner reported on Wednesday.
The girl suffered from severe asthma that caused episodes of cardiac and respiratory arrest, and frequent emergency hospital admissions over three years.
    Her medical cause of death was listed as acute respiratory failure, severe asthma and air pollution exposure. The coroner's conclusion was that Ella "died of asthma contributed to by exposure to excessive air pollution."
      Ella, who died in February 2013, is thought to be the first person in the world to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.
      The charities Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation said Ella was the first person in world history to have air pollution listed as a cause of death on her death certificate.
      Assistant coroner Philip Barlow said that Ella's mother had not been given information about air pollution and asthma that could have led to her take steps which "might" have prevented her daughter's death, according to PA Media.
      "Air pollution was a significant contributory factor to both the induction and exacerbation of her asthma," said Barlow as he gave his conclusions at Southwark Coroner's Court after a two-week inquest.
        "During the course of her illness between 2010 and 2013 she was exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in excess of World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines."
        "The principal source of her exposure was traffic emissions," he said, according to PA.
        Barlow said there was a failure in this period to reduce the level of nitrogen dioxide to within the limits set by EU and domestic law.
        "We've got the justice for her which she so deserved," Ella's mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, said after the ruling.
        But she added: "Also it's about other children still as we walk around our city of high levels of air pollution."
        "Her legacy would be to bring in a new Clean Air Act and for governments -- I'm not just talking about the UK government -- governments around the world to take this matter seriously," said Kissi-Debrah, reported PA.
        "I still think there's a lack of understanding about the damage it does to young lungs, especially that are not truly formed."
        Ella's mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, said her daughter got the justice she deserved.
        Kissi-Debrah said she would prefer to see a public awareness campaign about the damage air pollution can do "rather than a blame game."
        A previous inquest ruling from 2014, which concluded Ella died of acute respiratory failure, was quashed by the High Court following new evidence about the dangerous levels of air pollution close to her home, PA reported.
        London Mayor Sadiq Khan called it a "landmark moment" and praised Ella's mother for her "extraordinary" courage and years of campaigning.