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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

Elinor Sisulu to present lecture at the UFS
2008-07-30

Human rights activist, Ms Elinor Sisulu, will deliver a Women’s Day lecture, titled: “Voiceless and voteless, fleeing zanuphobia into xenophobia: A Zimbabwean woman’s perspective of National Women’s Day” at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein on Wednesday next week.
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She was invited by the Faculty of the Humanities at the UFS to deliver the lecture on Wednesday 6 August because of her stature as an activist and writer and her views on the topical issue of Zimbabwe.

The Vice-Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, Prof Engela Pretorius, said the UFS was keen to engage the larger community on these kinds of issues and invites all interested people to attend.

Ms Sisulu is a writer, human rights activist and political analyst. Born in Zimbabwe, she was educated in Zimbabwe, Senegal and the Netherlands.

She combines training in history, English literature, development studies and feminist theory. In 1994 she published an award-winning children's book, “The Day Gogo Went to Vote”.

Her biography about her mother-in-law and father-in-law, titled “Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In Our Lifetime”, was published to critical acclaim in December 2002. The book was runner-up in the 2003 Alan Paton Non-fiction Award and won the 2003 Noma Award for publishing in Africa.

Ms Sisulu works in the South African office for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the major umbrella body of Zimbabwean non-governmental organisations.

The lecture will start at 19:00 in the CR Swart Auditorium on the main campus in Bloemfontein.

Light refreshments will be served.

Those wishing to attend must please make a booking with Hettie Beukes at 051 401 2240 or beukeshs.hum@ufs.ac.za.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
30 July 2008
 

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