More needs to be done to tackle air pollution - BSACI

More needs to be done to tackle air pollution

Following the coroners ruling that air pollution was a factor in the death of nine-year old Ella Kissi-Debrah, who had severe asthma more needs to be done to tackle excessive air pollution levels, says the British Society for Allergy & Clinical Immunology (BSACI), the UK’s leading organisation for healthcare professionals caring for patients with allergy. Allergy is one of the most common triggers of asthma, however, Ella Kissi-Debrah’s severe asthma was triggered by exposure to excessive air pollution.  

The ruling was the first time in the world to identify air pollution as a cause of an individual’s death. The verdict is a tribute to Ella’s mother Rosamund Kissi-Debrah‘s fight for a second inquest after evidence from Professor Sir Stephen Holgate (a BSACI member) showed that air pollution levels near Ella’s home exceeded EU and national limits. Sir Stephen is one of three Clean Air Champions, appointed by UKRI and the Met Office as part of a £42.5m UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund Clean Air programme aimed at bringing together researchers from different disciplines for joined up thinking and solutions to tackle the pernicious effects of air pollution.

Sir Stephen  said ” This is a landmark judgment made by Phillp Barlow, the Coroner for South London. Her tragic case is a powerful testimony to how toxic air pollution can wreak havoc on the lungs of susceptible people. Ella had an unusual form of very severe asthma, but air pollution will be a factor aggravating asthma in many others. It is incumbent on us all to work together in cleaning up the air we depend upon for life, but especially those who are most vulnerable such as Ella who paid the ultimate price.” 

Currently in the UK 5.4 million people are receiving treatment for asthma 1.1 million of those are children. A report in 2016 from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health reported that approximately 40,000 deaths in Britain are linked to air pollution. 

Professor Adam Fox, President of the BSACI said “Air pollution is a public health emergency which the government needs to take urgent action on to prevent more children in the UK with asthma dying unnecessarily, the Government must act now.” BSACI will be writing to Ella Roberta Family Foundation, which was set up after the death of Ella to raise awareness of the issues around asthma and clean air, to offer their support and to explore practical ways to help further our mutual aims.