Coroner calls on government to tighten air pollution targets

The coroner’s report follows the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah after a fatal asthma attack

A coroner has urged the government to set legally binding particulate matter targets based on the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s guidelines to reduce the number of deaths from air pollution in the UK.

The coroner’s ‘Prevention of Future Deaths’ report follows the inquest into the death of Ella Adoo Kissi Debrah, a nine-year-old girl who has been exposed to toxic air.

Coroners Philip Barlow’s report notes: “the national limits for particulate matter (PM2.5) are set at a level far higher than the WHO guidelines.

“The evidence at the inquest was that there is no safe level for PM2.5 and that the WHO guidelines should be seen as minimum requirements.”

The coroner also highlights the lack of communication for the terrible impacts of air pollution that exists in the UK.

He notes: “Greater awareness would help individuals reduce their personal exposure to air pollution.”

Four months ago, Southwark Coroner’s Court ruled that air pollution made a ‘material contribution’ to the death of Ella. 

A government spokesperson said: “Our thoughts continue to be with Ella’s family and friends.

“We are delivering a £3.8 billion plan to clean up transport and tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution and going further in protecting communities from air pollution, particularly PM2.5 which is especially harmful to human health.

“Through our landmark Environment Bill, we are also setting ambitious new air quality targets with a focus on reducing public health impacts.”

“We will carefully consider the recommendations in the report and respond in due course.”

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