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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

Project aims to boost science pass rate
2009-01-19

 
Attending the launch of the HP grant of about R1 million to the UFS are, from the left: Mr Leon Erasmus, Country Manager for HP Technology Services in South Africa, Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Acting Rector of the UFS, and Mr Cobus van Breda, researcher at the UFS's Centre for Education Development and manager of the project.
Photo: Lacea Loader
The University of the Free State (UFS), in partnership with computer giant Hewlett Packard (HP), wants to boost the pass rate of its science students by using mobile technology.

The UFS is one of only 15 universities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and the only university in South Africa to receive a grant from HP to promote mobile technology for teaching in higher education valued at USD$ 100,000 (or about R1 million). Altogether 80 universities from 28 countries applied for the grant.

“Last year HP invited a number of selected universities to submit proposals in which they had to explain how they are going to utilise mobile technologies in the redesign of a course that is presented at the university. The proposal of the Centre for Education Development (CED) at the UFS entitled “Understanding Physics through data logging” was accepted,” says Mr Cobus van Breda, researcher at CED and manager of the project.

According to Mr van Breda, students who do not meet the entrance requirements for the three-year B.Sc. programme have to enroll for the four-year curriculum with the first year actually preparing them for the three-year curriculum.

In order to increase the success rate of these students, the project envisages to enhance their understanding of science principles by utilising the advantages of personal computer (PC) tablet technology and other information and communication technologies (ICT) to support effective teaching and learning methodology.

“By using PC tablet technology in collaboration with data-logging software, a personal response system, the internet and other interactive ICT applications, an environment different from a traditional teaching milieu is created. This will consequently result in a different approach to addressing students’ learning issues,” says Mr van Breda.

The pilot project was launched during the fourth term of 2008 when 130 first-year B.Sc. students (of the four-year curriculum) did the practical component of the physics section of the Concepts in General Science (CGS) module by conducting experiments in a computerised laboratory, using data-logging software amongst other technology applications. “The pilot project delivered good results and students found the interactive application very helpful,” says Mr van Breda.

”The unique feature of the latter is the fact that real-life data can be collected with electronic sensors and instantly presented as computer graphs. It can then be analysed and interpreted immediately, thus more time can be devoted to actual Science principles and phenomena and less time on time-consuming data processing,” says Mr van Breda.

The CGS module can be seen as a prerequisite for further studies in physics at university level and in this regard it is of essence to keep looking for new models of learning and teaching which can result in student success. This year the theoretical and practical component of the physics section of the CGS programme will be done in an integrated manner.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
16 January 2009
 

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