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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 Centenary ends with a weekend of festivities
2005-02-04

The University of the Free State ’s (UFS) Centenary celebrations will come to an end this weekend with a packed programme.

“We celebrated this momentous milestone of the UFS since 28 January 2004 and want to end the year on a high note,” said Mr Jan Ras, Centenary Coordinator.

The weekend will start on Friday 4 February 2005 when Prof Frederick Fourie, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, will open the UFS officially. This will be followed by an historic photo of all staff and students who are on campus that day. All staff will be wearing their academic gowns and the Centenary emblem will be depicted.

The annual Kovsie Engen Rag, with We thank you South Africa as theme, will take place on Saturday 5 February 2005 . The procession will start at 08:00 from the UFS Kovsie church and will move down Nelson Mandela Drive and right into Markgraaff Street exit until it reaches St Andrew’s Street. From here it will turn right into Kings Way where it will stop at the Art Market at 10:00 . Prof Frederick Fourie will then propose a toast on the procession. Afterwards the groups and orchestras will step out and the floats will move through the center of town around Hoffman Square and then back to the UFS campus.

According to Mr Ras a reunion for the Student Representative Council (SRC) will also take place this weekend. About 100 former SRC members are expected to attend the planned activities.

The weekend will be concluded on Sunday 6 February 2005 with a special service of devotion, hosted by all the interdenominational groups on the campus. The service starts at 18:00 for 18:30 in front of the Main Building of the UFS and will be a celebration of praise, thanks and worship, followed by a message from Dr Wollie Grobler. The evening will be concluded with a mass choir and a fireworks display.

“Members of the public are welcome to attend the service of devotion and are requested to bring a candle for the purpose of the mass choir. Although chairs will be arranged in front of the Main Building , people are requested to bring extra pillows and blankets to sit on,” said Mr Ras.

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