November 4, 2021

How an improvement in air quality will help Paul Lipscombe, Chairman of Breathe Easy Southsea Support Group, and others like him

For many of us breathing easily is something we take for granted. However, for Paul Lipscombe, along with hundreds of other local residents living with lung disease, is it something that is always on his mind and has an impact on his everyday life.  Air quality has a direct effect on Paul’s daily activities, he must always be aware of the air pollution levels so he can make changes to his daily routine.

Paul, aged 62, currently lives in Paulsgrove and has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He notices a significant difference in his symptoms when traveling into the city.  Paul has a facemask with a filter that he wears whenever he is outside as he finds that this helps reduces the impact from air pollution, but even with this, when in the city his coughing worsens, and he needs to use his inhaler more often.

Paul co-founded the Breathe Easy Southsea Support Group along with his friend Arthur Hamer in 2015. He says:

“In the six years I have been involved with the support group the number of people attending has increased. The number of people being diagnosed with lung disease is doubling and the age of people coming has gone down. When we first started the group, the average age was over 50, but now we are seeing more and more younger people joining.”

Research shows that if children are exposed to air pollution for a long period of time, it can affect how their lungs develop. There’s also new evidence that children who grow up in highly polluted areas are more likely to develop asthma.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) confirms that air pollution is a health emergency. Across the UK it is at lethal levels with 36,000 people in the UK dying early each year because of toxic air. As air pollution levels rise, people with lung conditions are at an increased risk of becoming ill and needing treatment. People who have lung conditions notice an increase in symptoms with high levels of air pollution. The BLF advises that on high pollution days, the best thing you can do to reduce your exposure to air pollution is to avoid main roads and busy streets where possible. If you have a lung condition or have children, this is even more important.

Paul was keen to hear about the various initiatives that Portsmouth City Council are working on to tackle the toxic levels of air pollution in our city. He wants to see an improvement to the city’s air quality to make it easier for him, and the many others like him. He tells us:

“An improvement in air quality would allow me to move around the city more easily in my day-to-day life, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about breathing in all the muck. “

The Breathe Easy Southsea Support Group meets the second Monday of every month at Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth.  For information and support on how to live with a lung condition contact

Reducing air pollution levels as soon as possible is essential for the health and wellbeing of us all.  We all have a part to play to improve the air we breathe in Portsmouth.  You can help by choosing to walk or cycle, avoid idling your car engine when you’re stationary, and think about  a hybrid or electric vehicle when you upgrade your car.