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This is an unprecedented decision that could have important repercussions in the years to come. British justice has officially recognized that air pollution contributed to the death of a London schoolgirl.

A seven-year legal fight

After two weeks of investigation, the court of Southwark, in the south of London, stated that the death ofElla Kissi-Debrah was due to acute respiratory failure, severe asthma and exposure to air pollution. Nine years old, she died on February 15, 2013, after years of repeated crises and around thirty hospitalizations related to this disease. ” My conclusion is that air pollution [liée au trafic routier] was a material contribution in Ella’s death “Said the deputy medical examiner Philip barlow.

The family ofElla had insisted that a second investigation be conducted, arguing that a first hearing in 2014 did not take into account air pollution as a possible cause of his death, and that different evidence made it possible to link the visits to the schoolgirl in hospital and high pollution levels near her home Lewisham, located in the immediate vicinity of South Circular, a very busy route in South London.

Today is a historic date. A 7 year fight resulted in the recognition of air pollution on Ella’s death certificate. We hope this will save the lives of many more children », Estimated Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, the mother ofElla. ” It’s a major decision that reveals the devastating effects of air pollution and the urgent need to make the air we breathe pure », For his part declared Larissa Lockwood, leading the campaign ” Fresh air ” of Global Plan of Action.

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The serious health consequences of air pollution

It is estimated that air pollution causes about seven million premature deaths per year worldwide, including 600,000 children. Prolonged exposure to pollutants can cause diabetes, lung disease and cancer, while several research studies have recently linked this type of pollution to higher death rates in patients with Covid-19. In 2016, a study carried out by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health determined that approximately 40,000 deaths in Britain was linked to air pollution.

The legislation ofEuropean Union (EU) predicts that the annual average concentration level of nitrogen dioxide cannot exceed 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug / m3). A goal that Britain has not reached for a decade and is not expected to be able to achieve until 2025, despite the establishment of numerous low-emission zones on its territory.

However, activists and legal experts say the landmark London court verdict is likely to push the UK government, which is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050, to toughen up the tone on air pollution.

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