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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

Prof. Hennie Snyman named national agriculturist of the year
2009-11-18

Here is Prof. Snyman (right) with Adv. Koos Nel, Marketing Manager of Old Mutual, one of the sponsors.
Photo: Ben Rootman

This past weekend Prof. Hennie Snyman from the Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) became the second agriculturist in a row at the UFS that was named the national agriculturist of the year by Agricultural Writers SA. This honour was bestowed upon Prof. Maryke Labuschagne from the Department of Plant Sciences at the UFS last year. Prof. Snyman is, amongst others, honoured because he is one of the few South African agriculturists that are making a comprehensive contribution towards the Grasslands and Agricultural Sciences.

His broad field of research over the past 32 years has been the sustainable utilisation of the grasslands ecosystem in drier areas in particular. Various other grasslands projects in various fields have also been undertaken by him. The adjudication took place in five categories, namely the contribution towards agriculture in general, the contribution towards the development of the farmer, adaptation to changing circumstances in the agricultural industry, national and international recognition in the agricultural industry and the field in which he is an expert and achievements already attained. Prof. Snyman received the award during a dinner of the Agricultural Writers SA in Pretoria.

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