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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 again involved in this year's Science Expo
2009-08-21

The annual Science Expo will once again take place at the South Campus (formerly known as the Vista Campus) of the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein from 20-22 Augustus 2009.

This is the 25th year that the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science at the UFS is involved in the project as one of the main sponsors for the regional competition. This involvement stems from the institution’s endeavour to promote a love for science amongst youth at an early age already. In this way, new thoughts and development are stimulated with regard to science.

The total involvement of the faculty amounts to approximately R25 000, which includes:

  • The sponsoring of prizes and gift hampers for 220 medallists
  • The sponsoring of two floating trophies awarded to the primary and secondary school with the most Gold medals, as well as R1 000 cash for the two winning
    schools as prize money
  • The sponsoring of medals for the best project for Grades 4-7, Grades 8-9 and Grades 10-12
  • The sponsoring of merit bursaries to the value of approximately R1 800 for the
    best project: Grades 10-12 at the Science Expo
  • The sponsoring of a special prize for the best project in Soil Sciences to the
    value of R500
  • The venue is made available for free for the project
  • The sponsoring of other expenses to the value of R10 000

This year approximately 432 participants entered for the Science Project. The best projects will participate in the National Science Expo in Pretoria from 2-3 October 2009, where a group of learners will be selected to go to the International Science Expo.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Deputy Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za
20 August 2009

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