The mother of a girl who died from pollution has written to the Prime Minister urging him to commit to World Health Organisation targets on poisonous particles, The Telegraph can reveal.
Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah has "implored" Boris Johnson "as a father" to use his Environment Bill to "set an example for the whole world" by setting ambitious clear air goals .
Her daughter, Ella, became the first person in Britain to have air pollution listed as the cause of death after an inquest last year.
She died aged just nine in 2013 from severe asthma. A coroner found the fact that she lived near the busy South Circular Road in south London was a "material contribution" to her death.
In her mother's letter to the Prime Minister, sent nearly a fortnight before the Cop26 Climate Conference, she said: "I write today to you – as the father of a young child and another unborn, and as the UK's leader – to urge you to protect children around the country from suffering the way Ella did.
"The UK has one of the highest death rates from asthma in Europe, whereas in Finland, a country with better air quality, no children die from asthma."
Describing the high levels of pollution as a "pandemic", Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah complained that the Environment Bill , due to be debated in the House of Commons on Wednesday, does not adequately address the need to cut the levels of tiny particles in the air.
"The Environment Bill is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that children born now – including your own children – can grow up breathing safe, healthy air," she added.
"As it stands, however, the Bill goes nowhere near treating air quality with the seriousness it deserves.
"The Government's intention to hold a consultation on air quality targets between January and October 2022 risks letting another 22-24 children die from asthma before we begin the work it takes to deliver air that is acceptable to breathe."
She continued: "In your speech to the UN General Assembly in September , you stated that 'it is time to listen to the warnings of the scientists'. I implore you to do just that in protecting the health of our youngest and our future generations."
In September, the World Health Organisation (WHO) updated its guidance on pollution warning how exceeding targets for tiny particles produced by traffic and industry posed a serious threat to life.
It is estimated that between 36,000 and 40,000 people die in the UK prematurely due to exposure to air pollution.
The WHO guideline annual limit for fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, considered the most dangerous pollutant because it enters the bloodstream as well as the lungs, was halved from 10 micrograms per cubic metre to five.
The national limit on PM2.5, which in the UK is mainly produced by wood burning stoves and diesel vehicles, is 20.
The figures are the biggest single drop in the WHO's regularly updated guidelines, which are renewed every year based on new scientific evidence.
A Defra spokesman said: "To ensure further long-term progress, we will set stretching and ambitious targets on air quality through our Environment Bill, taking into consideration the updated WHO guidelines."
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