Campaigning for environmental and social justice in Brent and beyond
Tuesday, 19 November 2019
Brent children need clean air NOW!
Dr Ian Mudway addressing the meeting
A packed meeting held at Queens Park Community
School last week (Tuesday 12 November) heard from experts and campaigners how severely
our children’s health is being affected by air pollution, and what should
happen now to stop it.
Over 60 parents and campaigners from across Brent
came together to hear Dr Ian Mudway, a respiratory disease specialist at King’s
College London, explain how children’s lungs are damaged by daily exposure to
diesel emissions, even when they don’t display any apparent symptoms.Dr Mudway, a global expert on the subject,
I now believe that there’s no doubt that
children who grow up in polluted areas have stunted lung development. Their
lungs don’t develop properly. We’re seeing that in our children in Tower
Hamlets and Hackney. Their lungs at the age of nine were already smaller than
they ought to be. And that’s a burden that they’ll carry with them for the rest
of their lives.
The meeting also heard from Rosamund Kissi-Debrah.She became a passionate campaigner after her
daughter Ella, who had a rare and severe form of asthma, died in 2013.She was nine years old.The pathologist who carried out her post
mortem said it was “one of the worst cases of asthma ever recorded in the UK”.
The family were living next to the South Circular road at the time.
It is unacceptable that
children in Britain today die from asthma. There are 240,000 under-19s with a
diagnosis of asthma in London.Government and local authorities are not taking strong enough action…there
needs to be new Clean Air Act.Air
pollution is related to many other diseases as well, costing the NHS millions
each year to treat…My daughter suffered terribly, and hopefully her
death will not be wasted.
In May 2019 Ella’s inquest was re-opened, to
determine whether "unlawfully high levels of air pollution" were
partially the cause of her death. Air pollution has never previously been officially recorded on an
individual's death certificate.
Cllr Krupa Sheth, Cabinet Member for the
Environment at Brent Council, attended to outline various Council initiatives to
combat air pollution including measures to increase awareness about the dangers
of idling, and a piloting of School Streets.She said that “air quality has become a high priority in the
Cllr Thomas Stephens who is currently chairing a
Scrutiny Committee Air Quality Task Group said:
Air pollution is an
invisible killer.It’s hard to persuade
people to take action when you cannot see it. For example there’s a perception that people
are safer inside a car, when this is not the case. We need to do a lot and need
to do it quickly.
Mark Falcon, Chair of Clean Air for Brent, which
is taking part in the Air Quality Task Group said:
Brent contains 4 out of 10 of
London’s most polluted roads (1). We believe the time has come for
traffic control measures in the worst pollution hotspots, particularly those
near schools. We urge Brent Council and Transport for London to take bold
action now to protect our children’s health.