Last reviewed 28 June 2021

At the inquest into the death of nine year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, the coroner concluded that air pollution made a material contribution to her death and issued a Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

This action is open to coroners if they have heard evidence that further avoidable deaths could happen if preventive action is not taken. The report is sent to the person or authority with the power to make the changes that are suggested.

The report was in this case addressed to numerous bodies including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for Transport (DfT), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Mayor of London and the London Borough of Lewisham.

Details of the Government’s response can be found at GOV.UK.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Air pollution levels have reduced significantly since 2010, with emissions of fine particulate matter falling by 11%, while emissions of nitrogen oxides are at their lowest level since records began”.

The British Safety Council (BSC) has criticised the Government’s response to the coroner’s concerns, saying that it fails to set out concrete actions to both reduce harmful levels of ambient air pollution and limit exposure to toxic air.

The BSC said: “Once again, the Government is planning a consultation on a legal limit for tiny particulate matter (PM2.5) but not until next year. British Safety Council finds this unbelievable when the Government’s own Environment Bill — the purpose of which is to set a legal limit for PM2.5 — is currently being considered in Parliament.”

The reality is, it went on, that air pollution is the UK’s largest environmental health risk, greater than obesity and smoking, and it causes 40,000 deaths a year while costing the economy a staggering £30 billion annually.

BSC Chief Executive, Mike Robinson, said: “The Government should act immediately to enshrine into UK law the World Health Organisation limits for PM2.5, as well as the WHO limits for other harmful pollutants including PM10, nitrogen dioxide and ozone”.