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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

US ambassador impressed by the UFS class of 2010
2010-01-19

 Mr Donald Gips

 “Students should learn to look beyond themselves to break up the barriers that keep them apart as human beings.”

This was the message of the USA ambassador to South Africa, Mr Donald Gips (pictured), to the first-year students who had enrolled at the university for the first time, during the grand opening of the Get Success@UFS Week at the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein.

“Take the advantage of the opportunities you have here to grow outside yourselves, to prove the value of diversity and make this university a place where you will grow as an individual; and also contribute back to the community,” he said.

He said the UFS was a beautiful campus undertaking an incredible mission to change the face of South Africa.

“It is incredible and exciting to listen to the energy and to see the enthusiasm of all the students here to make this one of the best universities in the country and setting an example to the world,” he said.

On transformation at higher education institutions, Ambassador Gips said that, just like in the USA, transformation was incredibly difficult.

“It is an ongoing project that everyone has to keep working towards,” he said. “But I am quite convinced that being here today and watching the students and professors tackle this challenge, this university will succeed.”

Addressing the new students, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, quoted from one of the famous speeches by the great Martin Luther King Jr. and asked the question: “What is or can be the content of your character?”

He implored the students to judge fellow students by the content of their character and not by the colour of their skins.
“If we succeed with you, our country will succeed. If we succeed with you, our university will succeed,” he said

Prof. Jansen said it was the first time in the history of the UFS that students were integrated as human beings.

“This is the most integrated group of students the UFS has ever had,” he said.
He appealed to them to live their dreams, learn to embrace others, study seriously, make a difference; and guide their leaders.

The purpose of the Get Success@UFS Week is to acquaint the first-year students with the UFS and the academic opportunities that are available to them. The aim is to:
help students succeed academically;
help students to adjust to and get involved in the university environment;
assist parents and other family members in understanding the complexity, demands and services in the University environment; and
provide an opportunity to learn more about incoming students through formal and informal means.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
19 January 2010
 

 

 

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