Sadiq Khan: Health professionals must tell patients about air pollution risk

The Mayor of London has requested NHS staff increase efforts to inform the public about the dangers of low-air quality. 

The new calls are directly linked to a verdict on the death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who passed away following a fatal asthma attack and is the first resident of Great Britain to have air pollution listed as a cause of death. She lived in Lewisham, South London, close to the busy North Circular road. 

man in white thobe standing

A coroner’s report was published last year, which urgently asked the government to take measures to improve understandings of air pollution and its risks to health. Mr Khan then reiterated the message ahead of a summit on clean air and health last week, suggesting the UK capital is facing a ‘pivotal moment’ in the fight against pollution, congestion, and climate change. 

‘We simply don’t have time to waste – deadly air pollution is permanently damaging the lungs of young Londoners and affecting older people who are more vulnerable to the impacts of poor air quality,’ said Khan. ‘This is also about social justice – we know pollution hits the poorest Londoners, who are least likely to own a car, the hardest, which is why I’m doing everything I can to improve air quality and protect the health of all Londoners.’

The Clean Air and Health Summit was held on Thursday, 17th February, with speakers including minister Jo Churchill and Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debra, Ella’s mother. England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, was also in attendance, with the event held in secret due to fears of protests by anti-vaccination campaigners. 

In related news, every hospital and medical centre in London is located in an area that exceeds World Health Organisation guidelines on air pollution.

Image credit: Sasun Bughdaryan


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2 years ago

It’s not only London that needs to be concerned. Very few GPs anywhere seem to mention air pollution as a possible cause for someone’s ill health. Perhaps they are afraid to? Easier to hand out the inhalers and medication than to tell someone to get rid of their diesel car or log burner? Or not to use scented furniture sprays because of the particles and VOCs the give off? When I was at school we had talks on the perils of cigarette smoking, so why not do the same about all the different kinds of air pollution anjd the health risks? At least it would get more discussion going. A television documentary too would help.

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