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In A First, A UK Court Ruled Air Pollution Caused This 9-Year-Old Girl’s Death From An Asthma Attack

The death of a nine-year-old girl in the UK has made legal history after a coroner’s court listed air pollution as one of the causes of death for the first time.

Ella Kissi-Debrah, who lived in Lewisham in south-east London near one of capital’s busiest roads, died after an asthma attack in 2013.

The coroner ruled after a two-week inquest that Kissi-Debrah had been “died of asthma contributed by exposure to excessive air pollution.”

In the three years before her death, Kissi-Debrah had been taken to the hospital almost 30 times due to numerous seizures, the BBC reported.

Her mother had spent years trying to have her daughter’s death examined by a second coroner after a previous inquest in 2014 ruled Kissi-Debrah died of acute respiratory failure.

The new ruling on Tuesday Dec. 16 concluded that Kissi-Debrah’s asthma had been worsened by air pollution, leading to an acute asthma attack and her death.

The coroner said that the principal source of her exposure was traffic emissions.

According to the coroner, during the period of her illness, “there was a recognised failure to reduce the level of nitrogen dioxide to within the limits set by EU and domestic law, which possibly contributed to her death.”

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said the coroner’s conclusion was a “landmark moment” and declared pollution a “public health crisis.”

“Today must be a turning point so that other families do not have to suffer the same heartbreak as Ella’s family,” Khan said.

A government spokesperson said it will be delivering a £3.8 billion plan to clean up transport and fight nitrogen dioxide pollution and working even further to protect the country’s communities from air pollution.

The ruling is likely increase pressure on governments to take illegal levels of air pollution more seriously.

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