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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

Department of Agricultural Economics and agri-business join forces
2009-12-01

Some of the guests who attended the Department of Agricultural Economics' half-century celebration dinner were, from the left: Ms Chrisna van Heerden from Cape Wools; Mr Gielie Swart from Corporate Guarantee; Mr Jaco Heckroodt from VKB (Vrystaat Koöperasie Beperk) in Reitz; Mr Arno van Vuuren from NWK Beperk (Noord-Wes Koöperasie); Prof. Johan Willemse, Departmental Chairperson of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the UFS; and Ms Marcine Morsavel from GWK Beperk (Griekwaland-Wes Koöperasie).
Photo: Stephen Collett

The Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State (UFS) launched a bursary programme to support students studying Agricultural Economics during its recent half-centenary celebrations.

More than half a million Rands were collected from various agri-businesses at this prestigious event in order to support approximately 16 Agricultural Economics students from 2010 onwards.

“The Department is proud of the past 50 years’ training of students for agriculture in the fields of research, governance, banking and the agri-business environment and we have launched the bursary programme in order to position the University closer to agri-businesses,” said Prof. Johan Willemse, Departmental Chairperson of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the UFS.

The agri-businesses, who will act as sponsors, also benefit from the project, because they are afforded the opportunity to identify promising Agricultural Economics students as potential employees and to expose them to the activities of the businesses by means of holiday work. Upon completion of his/her studies, the student will already be fairly familiar with the circumstances of the specific agri-business and loyalty towards the business will already have been established.

Students who major in Agricultural Economics may apply for the bursary programme.

Agri-businesses that have already agreed to act as sponsors are Omnia Fertilizer, Pioneer Foods Pty, Suid-Wes Koöperasie Beperk, Corporate Guarantee, GWK Beperk (Griekwaland-Wes Koöperasie), VKB (Vrystaat Koöperasie Beperk), the National Woolgrowers Association and NWK Beperk (Noord-Wes Koöperasie).

More information can be obtained by phoning Ms Marie Engelbrecht on 051 401 9054.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
1 December 2009

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