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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

Right to Learn cyclists cross the finish line
2017-12-05

 Description: R2L Finish  Tags: cyclists, Right to Learn, Cape Town, Paarl, GivenGain Foundation, donations 

The Right to Learn cycling team are happy and thankful that they have completed
their journey.
Photo: Mike Rose

After a seven-day journey, the Right to Learn cycling team have finally reached their destination. Having travelled for over a 1 000 kilometres from Bloemfontein, they arrived safely in the Paarl on Monday 4 December 2017. During their final stretch, they travelled 130 kilometres from Montagu to Paarl, where they ended the Right to Learn Cycling Tour.
 
Gratitude for support
Asive Dlanjwa, Bloemfontein Campus SRC President, says, “It's been good, it's been tough, and it’s been an amazing journey.” He expressed his gratitude to everyone who has been supporting them throughout the journey. “Thank you so much for every cent that you have given, for every prayer, and every thought.”
 
Thulasizwe Mxenge, one of the guest cyclists from Johannesburg, says, “Asive had informed us that most students struggle with access to higher education, and we saw the need to assist and take part in the initiative.” He says the journey was tough, because they had to cycle for about five hours every time they went on the road. “I’m very tired but also happy to have completed the journey.”

Donations received
Since the beginning of the Right to Learn initiative, they have managed to raise R80 000 through corporate giving, R15 584 on Dlanjwa’s GivenGain page, and $500 (about R6 845) from the GivenGain Foundation as part of the #GivingTuesday Twitter campaign which took place on 28 November 2017.
 
Annamia van den Heever, Director: Institutional Advancement, says, “Congratulations to Asive and the team!  It has been an absolute pleasure to work with such positive and passionate young people.” She also thanked all donors to the Right to Learn campaign for their support, saying it will ensure that talented students who cannot afford university fees will have access to the UFS next year. “We are hoping that more people will donate now that the tour has been successfully completed. There is no better Christmas gift,” she says.

Dlanjwa says, “We are committed to helping learners who are coming to the UFS next year. The trip was amazing and I feel stronger than I expected. I’d definitely do this again.”
The community is still encouraged to donate towards the initiative, using the following details:

EFT transaction:
Please use the following bank details:
Bank: ABSA Bank
Account Number: 1570850721
Branch Code: 632005
Account Type: Cheque
Reference: R2L: Right to Learn
Send the proof of payment to Rinda Duraan: duraanmj@ufs.ac.za

Debit order: Download the form and email it to Rinda Duraan

All donations are tax deductible in terms of South African income tax legislation.  

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