By Charlie Loran • 30 November 2020 • 22:24
THE air pollution was at “unlawful” levels for three years outside the home of a family before the tragic death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah from a fatal asthma attack, an inquest heard.
Ella Kissi-Debrah was rushed to hospital following a coughing fit. She repeatedly lost consciousness and eventually died in February 2013.
At a reopening of her inquest fon Monday, November 30, 2020, the hearing was told that levels of nitrogen dioxide where she lived near the south circular and A21 in Lewisham, southeast London had been over the limit for three consecutive years.
The council have admitted they had moved at a ‘glacial’ pace after identifying concerns in 2007 but not bringing in an action plan for seven years.
Ella, an aspiring RAF pilot had endured a horrific three years of seizures and 27 hospital visits before her death due to the air she was forced to breathe.
During questioning, the council chief Mr Edwards admitted the level of nitrogen dioxide was at “unlawful” levels over the three years from 2010 until 2013.
Richard Hermer, representing the family, asked, “From 2010 until Ella’s death, the annual average levels of nitrogen dioxide were constantly at unlawful levels?”
Mr Edwards replied, “Probably, yes.”
The coroner was told that Lewisham Council identified soot as a “grave concern” in 2008 but didn’t start monitoring it in the borough for a further four years.
Mr Edwards answered “yes” when asked if levels were deemed as harmful by World Health Organisation limits in the years before Ella’s death.
He also agreed it should have been treated as “a public health emergency” and that the Council had moved at a “glacial pace” taking seven years, from 2007, to bring in a so-called “action plan” to tackle the problem.
However, the council department boss, who didn’t come into the role until 2016, said the council’s hands were tied when it came to cutting pollution because it was powerless to reduce traffic on the South Circular and A21.
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