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First of Its Kind Air Pollution Personal Injury Claim Reaches High Court

The damaging impact of air pollution on public health has long been recognised, with poor air quality said to be the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK.

Despite evidence of long-term exposure to air pollution causing a variety of chronic conditions, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, no legal right to clean air has yet been established. However, in the first claim of its kind in the UK, the mother of a nine-year-old girl who died from an asthma attack induced by air pollution is seeking to change this.

The girl suffered the fatal attack in 2013, after regular exposure to high levels of urban air pollution in London. A coroner's inquest ruled that air pollution had made a material contribution to her death. This was the first time that air pollution was listed as a cause of death at a UK inquest.

The mother has now launched proceedings against three government departments – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; the Department for Transport; and the Department of Health and Social Care – pursuing justice for personal injury arising from the illness and premature death of her daughter.

After a preliminary hearing of the case, a date of 15 July 2024 has been set for a further hearing.

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