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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

First superannuation lecture delivered at the UFS
2009-11-18

Proff. Voet du Plessis (left) and Johan Henning, Dean of the Faculty of Law.
Photo: Stephen Collett


Prof. Voet du Plessis from the Department of Mercantile Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently presented the first superannuation lecture at the UFS.

Prof. Du Plessis retired this year after 41 years at the UFS. This milestone event coincides with the faculty’s celebration of a century of excellence in legal education under the theme “Iurisprudentia 100”.

With his superannuation lecture Prof. du Plessis gave a view on the future of worker participation in enterprises. Thirty years ago during his inaugural lecture he discussed a similar topic: Worker participation in the management organs of a company.

According to him there is currently no worker participation in management organs in South African companies. The South African legislation does give extended abilities and protection for workers. In spite of this protection South African legislation falls short with regard to a possible say workers may have in or influence that workers may exercise over decisions taken in the workplace and which affect them as workers directly.

In terms of the right to information and consultation he gave the following suggestions to improve the current system of worker participation in decisions which affect them as workers:

“Serious attention must be given to the changes to the current Labour Relations Act, 1995 for the compulsory establishment of a workplace forum in each workplace with 50 or more workers, to oblige the employer to take the initiative with the establishment of a workplace forum; and to give to registered trade unions who are recognised in the workplace the sole right to nominate candidates for the workplace forum,” said Prof. du Plessis. He also proposed that attention be given to a Southern African Work Committee. An increase in world wide economic operations through multi national companies with head quarters abroad where decisions about the misfortunes of workers in the Southern African region are taken makes such a decision essential.
 

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