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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 launches focused research niche areas
2009-11-20

The University of the Free State (UFS) will launch its six research niche areas, the Strategic Academic Clusters, from 23-25 November 2009 on its Main Campus in Bloemfontein.

These Clusters represent a move from a fragmented to a more focused approach to research development at the UFS and will in future direct the University’s research endeavours.

“The UFS is increasingly operating in a competitive environment where South African universities no longer compete only with their national counterparts, but also internationally. With the Clusters the University will follow a focused approach to the strategic selection of niche knowledge platforms and research areas,” says Prof. Frans Swanepoel, Director of Research Development at the UFS.

The Clusters are: Water management in water-scarce areas; New frontiers in poverty reduction and sustainable development; Transformation in highly diverse societies; Technologies for sustainable crop industries in semi-arid regions; Materials and nanosciences; and Advanced biomolecular research.

“The Clusters embody the pursuit of quality and excellence and the name signifies the University’s concern not only with research, but also with under- and postgraduate teaching and learning. The vision is that the Cluster activities will not only drive world-class research outputs, but also contribute to internationally renowned graduate programme activities,” says Prof. Swanepoel.

Each of the Clusters is led by a dedicated director who provides academic leadership, facilitates cutting-edge research, leverages multidisciplinary synergies and coordinates the overall Cluster activities.

Next week’s launch programme will start on Monday, 23 November 2009 with a gala dinner, followed by a plenary symposium on Tuesday, 24 November 2009, during which the Clusters will be introduced.

Several national and international experts in the fields covered by the Clusters will take part in this symposium. They are, amongst others: Dr Danny Walmsley from St Mary’s University in Canada; Dr David Wolfe from Cornell University and Dr David Clark from the National Institute of Health, both in the USA; Mr Mark Ashley from the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre in Australia; Dr Ian Goldman from the Office of the Presidency in South Africa; Prof Peter Ewang from the South African National Development Agency; Mr Willem Louw from Sasol Technology; and Dr Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela from the University of Cape Town.

On Wednesday, 25 November 2009 each Cluster will present its own symposium.

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

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