Air pollution, the silent killer

Pollution & Health

Official cause of death for the first time in UK

Project Facts

United Kingdom

Project Dates
Start: 2013

The Story

The World Health Organization (WHO) cites air pollution as the silent killer. Air pollution is strongly linked to strokes, heart attacks, different kinds of cancer, dementia, premature births, and many other ailments. Nearly 9 million early deaths can be attributed to air pollution each year. Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham, south-east London, died in 2013 from a rare and severe form of asthma. She had been hospitalized several times for severe asthma attacks, and her condition disabled her from an early age. The girl’s mother, Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, pursued further investigation which has resulted in an inquest that found air pollution "made a material contribution" to her death. In the years following Ella’s death, her mother became an advocate with the World Health Organization, which warned officials in London that air pollution levels exceeded safe limits.

Moreover Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah is the Co-Founder of the Ella Roberta Family Foundation that was set up after the death of her daughter in 2013. The aim of the Foundation is to improve the lives of children affected by asthma in South East London by raising awareness of asthma, campaigning for better treatment of asthma and campaigning for clean air as it is everyone’s fundamental right to breathe clean air. Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah was also part of a Roundtable with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the AUSTRIAN WORLD SUMMIT 2019 to discuss the consequences of air pollution. She once more participated at the 2021 AUSTRIAN WORLD SUMMIT to speak about the detrimental impact of air pollution.

Success Factor | Hero Moment

Ella was the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of death on their death certificate, following the inquest ruling in December 2020. Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah still keeps fighting pollution with the Ella Roberta Family Foundation with the mission to raise awareness of the dangers of asthma so that no child will ever have to suffer the way Ella did. 

Ella Roberta Family Foundation,


Awareness Raising, Private Initiative