The cost of air pollution is captured in a child’s smile: it’s time for ‘Ella’s law’ | Jocelyn Cockburn and Guy Mitchell

The cost of air pollution is captured in a child’s smile: it’s time for ‘Ella’s law’ | Jocelyn Cockburn and Guy Mitchell

As the family lawyers at Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s inquest, we join her mother and the coroner in calling for changes to the environment bill

The inquest last December into the death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah made waves around the world. The photograph of Ella, which was displayed in the coroner’s court and which the coroner described as showing Ella with a smile “as wide as the photograph”, beamed out from screens and newspapers internationally. As the family’s lawyers, we watched the evidence unfold over nine days. The culmination of years of tireless campaigning by Ella’s mother, Rosamund, had led to a landmark moment – the first time that air pollution had been officially recognised as a cause of death.

Last week, in his follow-up report, Phillip Barlow expressed concern that further action was needed to prevent future similar deaths. The coroner identified three areas of concern: the discrepancy between current national targets for particulate matter and those recommended by the World Health Organization; the lack of public awareness; and the insufficiency of communication by clinicians to patients of the risks of air pollution.

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