The verdict of air pollution being a contributory factor was made in the absence of measured data, under intense emotional and political pressure
The following is a joint statement about the verdict (1) from the ABD, Howard Cox of FairFuelUK and former MP Lembit Opik who work together as the nascent umbrella group known as Voters for Motors. We make the following points:
The inquest and ruling will demonise the UK’s drivers even further.
Politically biased environmental groups will exploit the subjective ruling mercilessly.
Anti-driver resentment will run rife fuelled by a plague of opportunistic legal actions.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is exposed to indictment from respiratory sufferers using the tube (2).
No mention was made of the indoor environment that Ella experienced in her lifetime. No one measured Ella’s actual individual exposure to any type of air pollution outdoors, or indoors (3), where the average person spends 90% of their time. Ella’s final asthmatic episode took place within the family home.
The fact that the Diffusion Tubes in the vicinity of Ella’s home measured lower values than the EU limits was ignored by the family solicitor. He continually referred to the WHO limits, which are much tighter and not yet recognised by the EU.
Professor Paul Wilkinson (4) countered the evidence given by Professor Stephen Holgate by stating that “he had found no evidence to support the theory that Ella’s condition worsened to the point of requiring hospitalisation at times when air pollution was higher.”
Howard Cox said: “No one can accurately show a mortality is down to one causal factor. Sadly, the subjectivity in this ruling will be used by well financed environmentalist groups to further demonise UK’s 37m drivers. It belies the good work by vehicle manufacturers and the haulage industry for example, who’ve halved vehicle emissions in the last decade, the period since the tragic death of Ella. It’s clear that a logical conclusion from this politically exploited case must mean that everyone who uses TfL’s Underground who develop serious respiratory indications, should indict the London Mayor for damages. And even worse, the Government’s continual ignorance to adopting proven low-cost pragmatic solutions to massively reduce vehicle emissions, must be challenged. It is a dereliction of their duty not to thoroughly investigate practical ways to improve air quality and to continue to use drivers as out-and-out cash cows.”
The cause of asthma remains unknown. Asthma attacks for sufferers are brought on by one or more ‘triggers’ (5), which are specific to each individual.
ABD Environment spokesman Paul Biggs was refused permission to give written or verbal evidence to the inquest (6).
The UK signed up to EU legal limits for Particulate Matter and Nitrogen Dioxide, but has not yet signed up to the lower WHO limits. Respiratory physician Professor Tony Frew pointed out in 2017 that “pollution levels are illegal because we made it illegal, not because it’s dangerous.” (7)
The verdict should not be used to curtail vehicle use via punitive taxation, road space reallocation or road blocks known as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), which increase congestion and therefore vehicle emissions. Ella’s mother Ms Rosamund Kissi-Debrah has described the Lee Green LTN in Lewisham as “insane” (8).
We promote the use of engine technology to further reduce vehicle emissions, including fuel additives, which the government is ignoring (9).
DEFRA 2018 figures (10) show that road transport emissions are only responsible for 31% of NOx, 11% of PM2.5 and 11% of PM10.
Notes for editors
(1) Link to the Record of Inquest: https://www.innersouthlondoncoroner.org.uk/news/2020/nov/inquest-touching-the-death-of-ella-roberta-adoo-kissi-debrah
(2) Tube particle pollution ‘30 times higher than by roads’: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-46820584#:~:text=Particulate%20pollution%20on%20parts%20of%20the%20London%20Underground,had%20the%20highest%20levels%20of%20particulate%20matter%20%28PM%29.
(3) Indoor air pollution: https://www.indoorairpollution.co.uk/
(4) Asthma inquest told: no link between girl’s hospital admissions and higher pollution: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/08/asthma-inquest-told-no-link-between-girls-hospital-admissions-and-higher-pollution
(5) NHS – Asthma: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/causes/
(6) ABD Press Release: New Ella Kissi-Debrah Inquest – One-Sided Evidence?: https://www.abd.org.uk/press-release-new-ella-kissi-debrah-inquest-one-sided-evidence/
(7) Professor Tony Frew interviewed on Talk Radio: https://talkradio.co.uk/news/sadiq-khans-40000-pollution-deaths-year-zombie-statistic-and-isnt-true-says-respiratory
(8) Air quality voice Rosamund Kissi-Debrah slams Lee Green LTN: https://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/18616846.air-quality-voice-rosamund-kissi-debrah-slams-lee-green-ltn/
(9) Why is the Government ignoring practical proven ways to lower emissions?: http://www.fairfueluk.com/Emissions-Solutions.html
(10) Emissions of air pollutants in the UK, 1970 to 2018 – Summary: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/emissions-of-air-pollutants/emissions-of-air-pollutants-in-the-uk-1970-to-2018-summary