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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

UFS and Griqua National Conference work together
2009-03-04

 

Delegates from the Griqua National Conference (GNC) and role players from the University of the Free State (UFS) recently met on the South Campus of the UFS to put the objectives of a Memorandum of Understanding into practice. Some of the objectives are research, programmes and projects focusing on economic, educational, political, cultural/heritage and socio-social matters. “Research in different fields is important for the survival of the Griqua in South Africa and the UFS gives credibility to the Griqua’s research projects,” says Mr Cecil le Fleur, Chairperson of the GNC’s Council of Chiefs. According to Mr le Fleur, the GNC wants to work with the UFS because the institution reaches out to the communities of the Southern Free State. There is also mutualistic cooperation in this area that is of benefit to both partners. “Together with the UFS we will also be investigating the feasibility of the production of a documentary film on the role of the Griqua in the central interior, its political models and the role the Griqua played in the establishment of white settlers in this area. We also want to investigate and implement other relevant points of tangency,” says Mr le Fleur. Here are, from the left: Mr le Fleur, Ms Elizabeth le Fleur, Chairperson of the Cultural Group, which is one of the focus areas of the cooperation agreement, and Rev Kiepie Jaftha, Chief Director: Community Service at the UFS.
Photo: Lacea Loader

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