Last year, our helpline stars answered 20,000 calls! But sadly, there were some people who couldn't get through to us. With your support, we can give more people the help they desperately need. 

Donate now

My research into bronchiectasis is crucial

If you have bronchiectasis, you might find that air pollution makes your symptoms worse. Dr James Chalmers is researching the link, and finding out what can be done to help. 

Air pollution is harmful for everyone, but it can be particularly damaging to patients with lung conditions.

Even brief exposure to high levels of air pollution causes inflammation in the lungs of people with asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis and other long term lung conditions. 

I'm researching why people with lung diseases like bronchiectasis are so susceptible to the effects of air pollution.

How I'm researching bronchiectasis

My team has been studying how different levels of air pollution affect people living with bronchiectasis in Scotland. We saw a clear link between chest infections, visits to the GP and hospital admissions, and high levels of air pollution.

It was a risk all year round, but the chance of infection was more than double in the summer, when people are spending more time outdoors. 

Our study concluded that people with bronchiectasis are very susceptible to air pollution. Now, we need to find out why - and to how we can stop it.

We must lower levels of air pollution

We have overwhelming evidence that air pollution harms our health. It's crucial we work with governments and local councils to promote lower levels of air pollution. We urgently need action at local and national levels to promote cleaner air.

Traffic-related air pollution is still a massive problem for public health, not just for people with lung disease, but for everyone in the UK. Not nearly enough has been done to reduce the levels of harmful particulates and other pollutants, like nitrogen dioxide. These pollutants cause inflammation in the lungs and have a damaging effect on the heart and other parts of the body. 

But the solution is not to advise people with lung disease to stay inside. Instead, the solution is to put pressure on our elected representatives to improve air quality. That will benefit everyone.

My work can make a difference

I hope we can find new treatments that reduce the impact of lung disease and help everyone breathe easier. Research like mine is crucial to making progress. 

It's been neglected for over a decade, but with the help of the British Lung Foundation, we're starting to make an impact on lung disease in the UK.

  Find out more about our research


I was very  interested to read this. After many chest infections, I was finally diagnosed with bronchiectasis 4 years ago. After living and working most of my life in central London, I believed my environment was making me ill and spent most of my day indoors. I decided to leave London and move to the country. After 3 months, I am already feeling the benefits of fresher air.
I have bronchiectasis and yes air pollution is not good for me and nor are stuffy rooms. I live on a main road which doesn't help! No answer yet but thanks for helping us. Jill
I was diagnosed with bronchiectasis when I was 17.  Recognition of condition and help is far better now 54 years later.  I know air quality is essential with this condition.  I have always found it harder in spring when not only the air quality but pollens are rife.  I used to call it lilac time!  Where I live the air is reasonably good but 3/4 of a mile away in our rural town I have many more breathless spasms.  Some chemicals farmers use on the fields affect me too.  I fully back Dr Chalmers research and hope we can get a reduction in traffic fumes at least and perhaps look at what chemical is released when they are used on fields.  Personally I am very susceptible to air quality but over the years have learnt to cope.

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
12 October 2018