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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

Student Hanje Pistorius walks before Christmas
2009-12-15

Mr Frans Kleinhans and Hanje Pistorius during a fitting session of her new bionic leg.
Photograph: Leonie Bolleurs

A medical student at the University of the Free State (UFS), Hanje Pistorius, who lost her leg in a motor accident while collecting money for the Rag earlier this year, will walk before Christmas. This time with the help of her new bionic leg. People countrywide opened their hearts and made contributions to help cover the cost of a prosthesis for Hanje.

Hanje decided on a product from the prosthesis component manufacturer, Ossur. The impressive mobility of a patient model user of the Rheo Knee convinced Hanje that this is the prosthesis that she would like to use.

The company Ossur decided to donate a part of the prosthesis component to her. Mr Frans Kleinhans from FA Kleinhans Orthopaedic Services also made a big contribution by offering to deliver the clinical services to manufacture the prosthesis and to fit it to Hanje. He will also manage the long-term rehabilitation.

Although Hanje is still unfamiliar with the leg, Mr Kleinhans said that she is already making good progress with the leg.
 

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