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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

UFS to lead African agricultural education initiative
2008-06-17

 

The Bill and Melinda Gates- and W.K. Kellogg Foundations have agreed to partner in support of a 10-year research and development programme. This programme will revise agricultural education curricula in Africa to become more responsive to the needs of smallholder African family farms. The goal of the initiative is the emergence of an agricultural human resource and knowledge system that drives smallholder farmer-led development and innovation to achieve improved productivity, food security and economic development in Africa.

The University of the Free State (UFS) and the Academy for Educational Development (AED), a USA-based non-governmental organisation, have been appointed as the two lead grantees to spearhead this initiative. Prof. Frans Swanepoel (right), Director: Research Development at the UFS has been appointed as the part-time Initiative Director, with Dr Aldo Stroebel, Head: Internationalisation at the UFS as the part-time Initiative Manager. They will partake in the conceptualisation and design of the strategy and structure for this continent-wide initiative. R8 million has been granted to the UFS to lead the initial 18-month exploratory phase. It is envisaged that the two foundations will invest in excess of R100 million (US$14 million) in the initiative.
Photo: Supplied



 

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