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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 is the most integrated campus in the country
2010-01-29

 
 Judge Ian van der Merwe, Chairperson of the University of the Free State's (UFS) Council and Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS at the official opening ceremony.
Photo: Hannes Pieterse

“The University of the Free State’s (UFS) Main Campus is the most integrated campus in the country.”

This was said by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS during the university’s official opening on its Main Campus in Bloemfontein today.

Addressing staff and students, Prof. Jansen said that the first-year students in the majority of the residences are now fully integrated on a 50/50 basis. “The majority of our house committees are now also integrated,” he said.

He used the ladies residence Welwitschia as an example. “When I walked into to this residence last year it consisted only of black female students. When I visited them again this year I could not believe what I saw: the residence is fully integrated and there are white and black students living together. This is an example of our young people’s willingness to live together and we must believe in their potential,” he said.

Prof. Jansen said that the UFS does not want to be good because “good is the enemy of great” (from Jim Collins in his book Good to Great). “We want to be great. This is the year in which our staff and students’ lives will change and this university will change as we take the first steps in making the leap from good to great,” he said.

Prof. Jansen said that there have been many developments at the UFS so far this year. “We have attracted some of the best scholars in the country and other parts of the world to this university, and we will be selecting from among them in the next two weeks. We have also attracted some of the best athletes in the country in our first-year class, including some of the best hockey players,” he said.

Prof. Jansen outlined the following as his priorities for 2010:

  • The phasing in of compulsory class attendance as a way to drastically improve the quality of teaching at the UFS. “This will also enhance our throughput. However, before we can to this, we are going to accelerate the building of larger classrooms to accommodate all our students,” he said.
  • The appointment of a senior vice-rector in the near future, who will manage the day to day operations of the UFS;
  • To market the UFS to the best and most promising schools in South Africa. “This will start next week when I will be visiting schools in the Eastern Cape.”
  • To raise R100 million to enable more students with talent to study at the UFS, and to build an endowment to be proud of for the future of the university;
  • To upgrade the infrastructure in the residences;
  • To require every member of the university’s academic staff to publish every year;
  • To train administrative and support staff so that a world-class service culture can be created which takes every student, every parent and every staff member seriously; and
  • To insist that the conditions of service of staff working for agencies outside the UFS be improved by increasing the minimum remuneration dramatically and by making study benefits available to them as well. “We will not renew our tenders with outside agencies unless they raise the minimum wage of their staff,” he said.

Prof. Jansen said that he was extremely proud of the Student Representative Council’s (SRC) leadership and what they have achieved so far during their term. He also thanked the staff for their hard work and the excellence they bring to the UFS.
 

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (actg)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za  
29 January 2010
 

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