UK Landmark Judgement on Air Pollution as Cause of Death

United Kingdom has passed a landmark judgement and has said that air pollution was the cause of death of a girl. The girl named Ella Kissi-Debrah was a 9-year-old school girl from London.

What was the issue?

Ella died in February 2013. In the hospital, the cause of death was listed as acute respiratory failure, severe asthma and air pollution exposure.

UK Judgement

UK judgement has ruled that, Ella “died of asthma which was contributed to by exposure to excessive air pollution”. Ella was the first person in the world whose death cause is listed as air pollution on her death certificate.

Air Pollution in UK

Air pollution is an issue of significant health concern in the United Kingdom. The air quality levels in UK often exceed the legal limits set by the government. Reason being this, several lawsuits are brought against the government for exceeding the legal target. The nitrogen dioxide (NO2) level often rises in UK. Air pollution has become the major environmental health threat. The outdoor pollutants contribute around 40,000 excess premature deaths per year. This death does not include deaths caused by indoor air pollution. The indoor pollution is generated from the sources like cigarette smoke, wood or coal burners for heating or energy, cleaning products, and cooking. The air pollution causes diseases and health conditions like asthma, lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.

London Smog

While the battle against air pollution in UK, its capital, London, had experienced the Great Smog of 1952. The Great Smog phenomena included a 4-day period of heavy smog over the capital. It started on December 5 and lasted for 4 days. The heavy smog was caused by the combination of increased coal burning to keep the buildings warm during the winter and a cold temperature inversion that trapped the smoke coming out from the coal burning. It led to the death of 4000 people.

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