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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

CED launches Family Science programme
2009-03-31

 
The Centre for Education Development (CED) at the University of the Free State recently launched a programme that will see 110 students from the Faculty of Education being trained in Family Science. These students will be empowered to assist parents and educators, through community workshops, in achieving further development of learners in the sciences, mathematics, technology and related issues in everyday life through the Family Science programmes that form part of the CED’s Science-For-The-Future project.

They will acquire skills to raise science literacy levels among young children by making use of everyday experiences in and around the home. Furthermore, they will be able to develop learning and teaching materials that are suitable and affordable for use in community workshops, as well as in the formal classroom situation. They will also learn to apply constructivist and hands-on methodology in the teaching of science for young children with different learning styles. As future teachers, they will then be in the privileged position to lay a firm foundation for their learners in the subject area of Natural Sciences, while at the same time reaching out to the community by presenting Family Science workshops that will qualify them for certificates. This project is sponsored by ABSA.

At the launch were, front from the left: Ms Mpai Motloli (Student Educator), Ms Elizna Prinsloo (Project Co-ordinator: CED) and Ms Zine Mogorosi (Regional Manager: ABSA Corporate Social Investment). Back: Mr Ledumile Monyake (Student Educator), Ms Lorraine Botha (Facilitator: CED), Prof Jack van der Linde (Director: CED) and Prof Gawie du Toit (Head of Department: Curriculum Studies).
Photo: Stephen Collett

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