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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

Process to appoint rector and vice-chancellor underway
2009-01-20

The process to appoint a rector and vice-chancellor for the University of the Free State (UFS) is underway and the selection committee has compiled a short list of five candidates to interview.

The committee, comprising of vice-rectors, deans and other members of senior management as well as representatives of the UFS Council, Senate, Institutional Forum, Student Representative Council and trade unions compiled the interview list out of the 26 candidates that applied.

“The applications, which closed on 2 December 2008, were received by an independent company specialising in the recruitment of executive and senior academic positions. The post was advertised locally as well as internationally,” says Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Acting Rector of the UFS.

According to Prof. Verschoor interviews will be conducted early February with the five candidates. These candidates are broadly representative in terms of race and gender. “If everything goes according to plan, three candidates will be invited after the interviews to introduce themselves to the university community at a public session to explain their vision and view of their role as rector and vice-chancellor of the UFS. These appearances should take place by the middle of February,” says Prof. Verschoor.

“We intend to submit the appointment of the successful candidate for approval at the meeting of the UFS Council in March,” says Prof. Verschoor.
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
20 January 2009

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