Lawyer seeks people affected by Brixton’s deadly air pollution

Let Brixton BreathePeople living in central Brixton may be having their most fundamental human right – the right to life – breached by traffic pollution, a lawyer has warned.

Jocelyn Cockburn in Brixton Road traffic

Jocelyn Cockburn, a leading human rights lawyer, is investigating ways to use the law to stop the toll of deaths and illness caused by pollution and how to bring together the community to mount such a challenge.

“Our lives are being shortened,” she told the Blog. “If dirty water was being piped into our homes there would be a national outcry. But dirty air, which causes many deaths, does not get a similar reaction.”

Legal action is one way that pressure can be brought to bear on the authorities to clean up our air, Ms Cockburn says.

“In tandem with local pressure, legal action can help to bring change quicker than otherwise would happen. It also helps highlight the issue publicly and raises awareness of this threat to our health.”

She wants people who have been and are being affected to consider how best to use human rights legislation – itself under threat – to protect their most precious human right: the right to life and health.

“I am looking to speak to individuals who are affected by pollution. Perhaps a loved one has died and the family do not feel the link with pollution has been properly investigated,” she says

“Or else, someone who has a particular vulnerability to pollution such as an asthma sufferer or someone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who would like advice on possible remedies. Children are also particularly affected in respect of lung development.”

“I’m happy to discuss possible redress on a confidential no-obligation basis.”

Air pollution prematurely kills far more people than alcohol, obesity and road traffic accidents put together, and is second only to smoking as a cause of death in the UK.

Pollution on Brixton Road – one of the streets worst affected by pollution in the entire country – hit the headlines when it broke legal limits for annual pollution that should cover a whole year in early January last year.

In 2014, Brixton Road had the highest number of hours where the recommend pollution levels were exceeded – 1,732 hours. Oxford Street in London’s West End reached only 1,361 hours.

If you think that you are particularly affected and want to discuss potential legal remedies against this deadly menace, please contact us and, if you want, we will put you in contact with Jocelyn Cockburn.


  1. I live in Hampshire, on a main road. My flat is also opposite a petrol station. I started to develop serious asthma and eventually realised air pollution was the cause. I now run an Hepa/Charcoal air purifier and on bad pollution days I wear a mask. My asthma has improved a lot and I’m waiting to move. The local doctors surgery were not well aware about pollution being a cause of Asthma, but were more cooperative when I printed out some info to remind people how air pollution can make you very sick. PM 2.5 is the most deadly so you need a Hepa grade air purifier, or a cheaper solution is particulate and vapor face masks.

  2. I do not live in Brixton. However I have a respiratory condition that my consultant has directly linked to traffic pollution. I was told I can have an operation but it would be a waste of time as I would be ill again within 6 months. I wrote to Domonic Raab my MP and asked what was being done his response in so many words was nothing. He also ducked the question regarding government collusion with the motor industry. I now believe legal action is the only way to influence matters.

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