URGENT action on traffic emissions in Glasgow is needed to tackle deadly air pollution.

We cannot ignore the fact that legal history has been made as for the first time, air pollution was recorded as a cause in an individual death in the UK. Air pollution from traffic has been ruled by Philip Barlow, a deputy coroner for inner South London, as a cause of death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo Kissi Debrah in February 2013.

Ella’s mother has struggled for justice over the last eight years. A family foundation has been set up which wants lessons to be learnt from Ella’s sudden death due to very severe and rare asthma. Asthma is the most common lung condition in children and affects around one in 11 children in the UK.

On April 21, the coroner who investigated Ella’s death published a Prevent Future Deaths from Air Pollution report. It seeks action to ensure that no child will ever have to suffer the way Ella did. This ground-breaking report calls for the UK Government’s maximum levels of particulate air pollution to be legally brought into line with levels of the World Health Organisation. This would reduce the number of deaths from air pollution in the UK.

It also calls for increased public awareness of information on local and national air pollution levels. Investment in a wider network of air quality sensors is recommended to give the detailed information required by the public.

Finally, it supports better communication of the health risks of air pollution to patients and their carers by medical and nursing professionals.

A response to the report’s three recommendations is expected by June 17 from the UK Government and a range of other organisations. Local government does not need to wait to address the concerns about the lack of public awareness about pollution information. We can extend the provision of air quality sensors without new legislation.

Before the pandemic, Hope Street was the most polluted street in Scotland, regularly exceeding legal levels. We mustn’t go back to that. We must not only take action in response to the coroner’s recommendations but also because of the increased concerns of children about air pollution in the latest survey by Sustrans. It found that half of UK pupils are worried about toxic air near their school. It revealed 40% of pupils think that more people walking, cycling or scooting to school was the best way to reduce the levels of air pollution near their school.

To improve air quality, Green councillors have pushed for car-free school streets to be adopted across Glasgow. Safer walking and cycling routes benefit everyone’s health, they are good for the economy and ensure that traffic is kept to a minimum in built-up areas. As lockdown measures ease in the weeks ahead, we need to ensure that every child has the opportunity and confidence to walk, wheel, scoot or cycle safely to school.

You can help by supporting the Global Clean Air Day on June 17, which is focused on protecting our children’s health from air pollution.