Dr Keith Prowse, Spokesperson for the British Lung Foundation speaks to Allergy Cosmos:

AC: What is the mission, and scope, of the British Lung Foundation; what distinguishes you from other medical charities?

KP: The British Lung Foundation is the only charity that supports people living with all conditions affecting the lungs, rather than one concentrating on a specific condition or aspect of illness. The BLF also provides funding for research into a number of diseases affecting the lungs.

AC: What services do you offer people with lung disease?

KP: We offer a variety of services for both patients and carers. One of the central services the British Lung Foundation offers is the Breathe Easy, a local support network with groups all over the country. It is a place where people living with lung conditions can share their experiences and seek advice about their lung condition. In addition, the BLF Nurse programme trains nurses to provide high level care for respiratory patients. Other major services include BLF Helpline for those who need help with anything lung related, from benefits to information about lung disease, and BLF Active which aims to train fitness instructors in chronic respiratory disease exercise. There is also an online community for those who want to learn more about their condition, but who perhaps would not be able to attend Breathe Easy meetings.

AC: One of our main interests here at Allergy Cosmos is asthma and allergy – do you have many people suffering from these conditions contacting you? What are their main issues?

KP: We do get a significant number of people calling the helpline who have allergies. The number of calls we get is of course quite seasonal. People who are living with lung conditions are at risk of a flare-up of their condition if they also suffer from an allergy.

AC: What BLF-funded research projects are you particularly proud of – could you give us one or two examples?

KP: British Lung Foundation funds have contributed to significant research developments for a wide variety of conditions. Two relatively recent examples include research that pioneered the use of a test to diagnose and monitor lung disease in young children, while another important example was research that identified which components of air pollution do the most damage to our lungs.

AC: What is BLF’s view on the role that air pollution plays in lung disease?

KC: The British Lung Foundation believes that everyone is entitled to breathe clean air, but one in five people are particularly at risk because of air pollution. Those with existing lung disease, as well as the old and young, are especially vulnerable to polluted air.