Air Pollution as Cause of Young Girl’s Death Underscores Need for Urgent Action

An inquest into the cause of 9-year old Ella Roberta Adoo Kissi-Debrah’s death concluded with the ruling that dangerously high levels of air pollution in London made a “material contribution” and will be recorded as a medical cause of her death in 2013. The inquest was possible thanks to the extraordinary campaign led by her mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, now a World Health Organization advocate for health and air quality.

“By declaring air pollution the cause of Ella’s tragic death, this ruling sends a powerful wake-up call to leaders around the world. Failure to act on dangerous pollution is having and will continue to have tragic consequences every day for children around the world. We know that air pollution is needlessly cutting short lives; we know that the burning of fossil fuels is the dominant source; and we have solutions to clean the air and protect our children’s health. What we need is the courage and commitment to take action.  

While this tragedy occurred in the UK, we face similar problems here in the US. The Biden administration has the opportunity to take immediate steps to deliver cleaner air for the millions of children suffering from asthma and for communities across this country that bear a heavy pollution burden.”

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