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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 will increase its volume of quality research
2009-11-25

 
From the left are, seated: Prof. Alice Pell, Vice-Provost: International Relations at Cornell University in the USA and Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS; standing: Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS, and Prof. David Wolfe from Cornell University during the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the two institutions.
Photo: Stephen Collett

The University of the Free State (UFS) is taking its research serious and is therefore going to increase its volume of quality research. This includes the production of quality scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences.

This was said by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, at the launch of the Strategic Academic Cluster initiative of the University on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein last night.

“We are going to produce the kind of research that is associated with scholarships. New models of training, new standards of performance and the introduction of an accelerated Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars’ Programme are among the initiatives that will be introduced. These are all aimed at boosting our university’s research performance,” said Prof. Jansen.

Another strategy to boost research performance at the UFS is the search for 25 leading professors to be appointed across the disciplines, but especially in the social sciences, education and the humanities. These positions have already been advertised and will be phased in with the goal of achieving equity and excellence in the academic and research profile of the UFS. “We’ve had an overwhelming response to the advertisements from local academics as well as those abroad,” said Prof. Jansen.

Each of the six Cluster Directors gave a short presentation of its aim and focus areas during last night’s dinner. These Clusters will in future direct the University’s research endeavours. It represents a move from a fragmented to a more focused approach to research development at the UFS.

The UFS also signed a memorandum of agreement with Cornell University (USA) last night. The guest speaker, Prof. Alice Pell, Vice-Provost: International Relations at Cornell University and member of the UFS’s International Advisory Board, said that, just as the cluster research teams need representatives from different disciplines, universities need diverse partners to recognise their potential fully. Collaborating with partners with ‘fresh eyes’ that have different cultural perspectives, access to different technologies and partners with different priorities can have important implications in the research and education provided by the UFS and Cornell,” she said.

“The interdisciplinary approach adopted by the UFS in developing the Strategic Academic Clusters seems likely to provide students with the intellectual frameworks and research tools that they need to address the problems in society,” she said.

“The most important issues facing the USA and South Africa are similar, namely how to effect the social transformation that will provide equal opportunities to all of our citizens. South Africa, Brazil, India and the USA share strong commitments to democracy, to overcoming our dark histories of religious and racial discrimination and to sustainable economic development without adverse impacts on our planet. We at Cornell are excited about the opportunity to work with the UFS on all of the clusters, but we are particularly looking forward to learning more about social transformation,” said Prof. Pell.

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  
24 November 2009

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