Ella’s Law: Clean air as a right in the UK

Ella’s Law: Clean air as a right in the UK

It is estimated that between 28,000 and 36,000 people in the UK die annually as a result of human-made air pollution1. On 2 December 2022, it was announced that Ella’s Law, also known as the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, is heading to Commons after passing through Lords. This is the first bill of its kind worldwide and would put the UK in the position to become the first nation to guarantee clean air as a human right for all its residents. Below we will talk more about the bill’s background and how it will change the future for those living in the UK.

Industrial air pollution billowing out into the sky

Who is Ella Debrah?

Ella Roberta Adoo Kissi Debrah was a 9-year-old girl who lived 25 meters from the South Circular Road in Lewisham, south-east London. After 28 months of seizures and 28 visits to the hospital for breathing problems, she passed away in February 2013. Ella is the very first person to have “air pollution” declared as a cause of death. A two-week inquest in 2014 by the London Inner South Coroner’s Court determined that air pollution was a “significant contributory factor to both the induction and exacerbation of her asthma” and that, in addition to her asthma, it led to acute respiratory failure.

Ella began experiencing issues with her breathing and a severe cough when she was just 7-years-old, and her parents and GP both initially believed the problem to be a chest infection. Having previously been diagnosed with asthma, doctors were surprised by how severe her asthma was becoming. No one raised the issue of air pollution which, due to her asthma, would put her at higher risk of suffering air pollution-related health issues. Ella’s neighbourhood, according to her father who had lived there for 20 years, had become progressively more polluted with increasingly heavy levels of automobile traffic due to traffic often being diverted through the area. Ella went into a coma on December 2010 and experienced her last asthma attack on 13 February 2013, around the same time when Lewisham was experiencing one if its worst episodes of air pollution in its history.

Ella was a clever, musical girl who dreamt of becoming a pilot before her life was tragically cut short2.

What is Ella’s Law?

The London area has a long history of experiencing poor air quality. In December of 1952, the Great Smog took hold of the city, killing over 4,000 people. Finally, 70 years later, Ella’s Law, or the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill (also known as the CAHR bill) is topping the ballot in the House of Lords.

Dense smog over a city

Once the act is passed, it will require the Secretary of State to achieve clean air throughout England and Wales within five years of its passing. That level must be maintained in the years following.

The CAHR Bill would require and address the following (though this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Set limits and targets based on the WHO’s new air quality guidelines as well as other international standards
  • Pollutants and limits would be reviewed and adjusted annually by the Environment Agency and Committee on Climate Change
  • CAHR would pertain to both outdoor air quality as well as indoor air quality (in new buildings) including underground public transportation
  • The Secretary of State must publish an annual report, including warnings when necessary, regarding air quality in England and Wales
  • The sale and use of appliances using renewable energy sources would be enabled and the sale and use of appliances using combustion energy sources would be restricted

The passing of the CAHR Bill would also create a new Citizens’ Commission for Clean Air (CCCA) to review the Secretary of State’s compliance with the Bill’s requirements on an annual basis3.

Protect your breathing air at home with an air purifier

The passing of Ella’s Law will be a momentous step in the right direction towards guaranteeing safe air to breathe for all residents in the UK. Unfortunately, it still does not guarantee that you are breathing safe air at home or in the workplace. Let us remember: indoor air is 7-10x more polluted than outdoor air!

Industrial air pollution over a city

An excellent way to ensure that you are breathing clean air at home is to outfit your space with an air purifier. With studies showing that air pollution is one of the most important factors leading to chronic disease4, it is crucial to take steps to protect the air you breathe at home and the places you spend the most time (such as the workplace). Investing in a high-quality air purifier equipped with a HEPA filter (“HEPA”, or “high-efficiency particulate air”, is a filter capable of filtering at least 99.97% of particles of a size greater than or equal to a diameter of 0.3 µm in a single pass) can help you greatly reduce your risk of contracting an air pollution-related illness. All of the air purifiers available at Eoleaf are equipped with HEPA filters and contain the most advanced filtration technologies on today’s market. Put your health first by installing an Eoleaf air purifier in your home today.



1Air pollution: Applying All our health. GOV.UK. (2022, February 28). Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/air-pollution-applying-all-our-health/air-pollution-applying-all-our-health

2Mavrokefalidis, D. (2021, June 17). Ella Kissi-Debrah: The story of a Canary in a coal mine. Energy Live News. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://www.energylivenews.com/2021/06/17/ella-kissi-debrah-the-story-of-a-canary-in-a-coal-mine/

3Ella's law. Clean Air in London. (2022). Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://cleanair.london/ellaslaw/

4Cleveland Clinic. (2021, October 21). Can air purifiers improve your lung and heart health? Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-air-purifiers-improve-lung-heart-health/

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