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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

Academic volunteers time on community radio
2017-12-25


 Description: Dr Marian Human-Nel Tags: Dr Marian Human-Nel 

Dr Marian Human-Nel
Photo: Supplied

Superior Scholarship. Human Embrace. Institutional Distinctiveness. Emergent Leadership. Public Service.

These are the core values underpinning both the university’s academic and human projects. It is the last one, public service, that resonates well with Dr Marian Human-Nel. She does her part as a radio presenter and news reader on Maluti FM 97.1, a Bethlehem-based community radio.

“As a community radio station, we are not only responsible for entertaining and informing the public, but we also do a lot of community fundraising projects. We also do a lot of wellbeing activities in the Eastern Free State,” said Dr Human-Nel, Subject Head and Lecturer in the Department of Afrikaans, Dutch, German and French on the Qwaqwa Campus.

Sharing of information and knowledge
Dr Human-Nel volunteers her services as presenter of two programmes. “I present Kollig in which I invite my Qwaqwa Campus colleagues and professionals in the community to talk about their specific fields of interest and research. The focus here is on information and sharing knowledge. We have a slot called ‘This Week in History’ written and prepared by my colleague from the History department.”

Another show that Dr Human-Nel presents is called Fluit-Fluit Storietyd on which she reads and does voice performance of Afrikaans short stories and poems with specific music. “The Fluit-Fluit programme informs and entertains through cultural activities,” she said.

Maluti FM broadcasts over a 160-kilometre radius around Bethlehem and is also available online.

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