At the Ella Roberta Foundation we believe in a world where clean air is a human right. We think everyone should be able to breathe air that is free from toxic pollution, regardless of where they live, their economic status or their ethnic background.
We believe the Coroner’s recommendations issued after the landmark inquest into Ella’s death have the power to improve air quality for everyone, everywhere. Our work is to campaign for these guidelines to be followed by governments, councils, medical professionals and the general public, all over the world.
1. National air pollution limits should be in line with WHO guidelines.
2. Raise awareness of the dangers of air pollution amongst the general public.
3. Ensure health professionals are aware of the dangers of air pollution, and that they tell their patients about it.
Air pollution kills 40,000 people in the UK every year. It reduces children’s lung growth and function, affecting their health throughout their lives and causing respiratory diseases such as asthma. In adults it is linked to strokes, heart disease, diabetes as well as neurodegenerative conditions.
The WHO calls air pollution the ‘new tobacco’ as it causes a similar level of disease to smoking. They say there are ‘no safe limits’ of PM2.5 air pollution, and the coroner at Ella’s inquest agreed. In his Prevention of Future Deaths report, he put forward that UK air pollution limits should be the same as those issued by the WHO in order to reduce the number of deaths from air pollution. Currently the UK is bound by EU air pollution limits (until new post-Brexit guidelines are issued by the government), but the WHO 2021 guidelines are significantly lower and following them could avoid 80% of deaths related to PM2.5 worldwide.
The report found that most people don’t know about the impact air pollution has on their and their children’s health or where to get information on air pollution levels. Because of this they’re not able to reduce the amount they are exposed to, for example, by avoiding busy roads. If Ella’s mother, Rosamund, had known about air pollution and the huge effect it can have on children, she could have changed elements of their lives to reduce Ella’s exposure to it.
We believe that by campaigning to raise awareness amongst the general public, we are enabling people to make informed decisions so they can lower their exposure to air pollution. These decisions could range from walking through a park rather than on a busy road, to lobbying their MP and the government.
The Coroner was concerned that the dangers of air pollution were not being sufficiently communicated to patients and their carers by the medical profession. He recommended that this should be addressed through undergraduate and postgraduate training, as well as the professional medical bodies. In addition to this, the Foundation is committed to promoting research into the links between air pollution and asthma, so that the medical profession and members of the public can better understand the health risks and how they can be treated.
We believe that by working with medical professionals, whether that’s promoting research or increasing awareness amongst health workers, we can help everyone make the link between health and air pollution.