By Claire Marshall
Environment correspondent

Publishedduration7 days agoshareSharenocloseShare pagelinkCopy linkAbout sharingimage copyrightRosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah

A fresh inquest into the death of an asthmatic nine-year-old girl starts on Monday, after a medical report suggested a direct link between her illness and poor air quality near her home, not far from a busy road. Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah could now become the first person in the UK – and possibly in the world – to have "air pollution" listed as a cause of death.

Ever since Ella became ill, 10 years ago, Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah has been asking questions. Why did her daughter, so vibrant and healthy, suddenly become so unwell? What was causing the asthma attacks and seizures?

"She was sitting there and she would suddenly have an attack and I wanted to know why? If your asthma is that bad, someone should be able to tell a parent, what is triggering it."

The next 10 days may finally give her some answers, but it will be a terrible ordeal.

"I'm not sure how I'm going to get through it all but I will somehow," she says. "I've held my promise to my late daughter to try to find out why she became so ill."

Rosamund will have to recall in detail the three years that her daughter was unwell. The times – she's lost count of how many – that Ella lay lifeless in the house and she had to resuscitate her. The blue-light ambulance journeys, almost 30 of them, to five different hospitals across London. Seeing her child's slender body hooked to a ventilator four times; being advised by doctors to try to talk to her through the induced comas, to help her recover.

Ella died in February 2013. The cause given on the death certificate was acute respiratory failure. The inquest in 2014 concluded it had perhaps been triggered by "something in the air". Until that time no-one had talked about air pollution as a cause of Ella's illness and Rosamund says she became determined to find out what that "something" was.