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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 Council elects a new Chairperson
2009-11-22

Judge Ian van der Merwe

The Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) elected Judge Ian van der Merwe as its new Chairperson at its last meeting for this year on Friday, 20 November 2009.

Judge Van der Merwe is an alumnus of the UFS and has been a member of the Council since 9 March 2007. In accepting his appointment, Judge Van der Merwe said that he was honoured and humbled to lead a Council of this calibre. “I will always do what is in the best interest of the UFS and, together with the Council, I will work towards making it an autonomous institution of academic excellence that is non-racial, non-sexist, and where diversity is cherished,” he said.

The election of a new Chairperson and the term of the Chancellor were among the matters discussed during yesterday’s meeting.

Dr Franklin Sonn will retire as Chancellor on 31 December 2009 and the term of office of the current Chairperson of Council, Judge Faan Hancke, will also expire on 31 December 2009. Dr Sonn has been Chancellor since 7 February 2003 and Judge Hancke has been Chairperson of the Council since 1 June 2001.

“I am elated that someone of Judge Van der Merwe’s stature has been elected as Chairperson and will provide him with my full support,” said Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor.

The Council paid tribute to Judge Hancke for the time he dedicated to the UFS, as well as for his leadership, guidance and wisdom to take the institution to where it stands in the current phase of its history. The Council also recognised Judge Hancke for, amongst others, his decision to appoint Prof. Jansen as the first black Rector and Vice-Chancellor, for his role in the implementation of the Transformation Plan and the policy to increase diversity in residences at the UFS, as well as his contribution to the growth of black students.

Judge Hancke thanked the Council for their support and assistance during his term and congratulated Judge van der Merwe on his appointment. “I wish Prof. Jansen and his management team well and hope that they will have the wisdom to solve the problems the institution is facing so that they can focus on the core business of the UFS namely its academia. I know the University can make a tremendous contribution to the country,” he said.

The Council also welcomed the following new members who were present at the meeting: Mr Pule Makgoe, MEC for Education in the Free State; Mr Ndaba Ntsele, Chief Executive Officer of the Pamodzi Group and Mr Willem Louw, Managing Director of Sasol Technology.

The new Chancellor will be elected as soon as the proposed statute is approved by the Council in 2010 and published in the Government Gazette. Prof. Jansen will act as Chancellor for the interim period from 1 January 2010.

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  
21 November 2009
 

 

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