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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

Kovsie athletes set the world alight
2009-08-05

Kovsie athletes Johan Cronjé, Thuso Mpuang and Kagisho Kumbane recently left for Berlin to participate in the World Senior Athletics Championships that will take place from 15-23 August 2009. It is an extraordinary achievement for the University of the Free State (UFS) that three of its athletes were included in the South African senior group that will participate in the world athletics championships in Berlin.

Johan will participate in the 1 500 m. Thuso, who earlier this year won a bronze medal in the 200 m at the World Student Games that were held in Belgrade, Serbia with a time of 20,69 seconds, will again participate in the 200 m at the championships in Berlin. Together with Kagisho he is also included in the South African relay team that will participate in the 4 x 100 m relay at these championships. Both Thuso and Kagisho were included in the South African team that ended third in the 4 x 100 m relay in Belgrade.

Kagisho also participated in the World Student Games in Belgrade, Serbia and progressed to the third round in the 100 m. Boy Soke, also a Kovsie athlete, ended in ninth place in the 5 000 m finals in Belgrade.

Windy Jonas, also from Kovsies, has left for Mauritius where he will participate in the Africa Junior Championships that will take place from 30 July to 3 August.

 
 Boy Soke Windy Jonas   Johan Cronjé
  
 Thuso Mpuang   Kagisho Kumbane 

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