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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

Faculty of Law converses with international students
2009-08-12

 
Pictured here are Emma Finney (left) and Lauren Nydam.
Photo: Stephen Collett
The Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently hosted two law students completing the practical leg of the Blackstone Legal Fellowship Programme. At this occasion, Lauren Nydam (B.Sc. in Engineering at Duke University School of Law), and Emma Finney (B.A. in History at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law) presented their research.

This annual initiative by the Faculty of Law entails that the students work on a given research topic on legal matters under the supervision of academics, in this case, under the supervision of Prof. Shaun de Freitas, Head of the Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law and Prof. Andries Raath, Senior Professor in this department.

This programme, run by the Alliance Defence Fund (ADF) in the United States of America (USA), is aimed at teaching Christian law students the importance of religious freedom and rights.

This year, the programme (which has been running for 10 years) accommodates 109 students, representing Schools of Law in the USA, including Harvard, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Notre Dame and Virginia. To date, 700 students have completed the programme. Currently there are students of the programme in Canada, England, France, Bulgaria and Italy.

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