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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 apologises for noise disturbance during newcomers' student festival
2010-02-01

Last night (Saturday, 30 January 2010), the University of the Free State (UFS) received various complaints regarding disturbance caused by the noise during a student function that took place at the Rag Farm on the Main Campus.

"I wish to apologise on behalf of the UFS for the inconvenience that residents in the neighbouring residential areas had to suffer during the Newcomers’ Student Festival last night,” said Mr Rudi Buys, Dean of Student Affairs at the UFS.

The function took place to conclude the welcoming period for new students. “Although strict measures applied regarding the staging of the event, amongst others, cut-off times for the performances of the guest artists and die organisation of the Rag Farm to prevent excessive noise, various unexpected factors made this difficult,” said Mr Buys.

One of the factors was the fact the more than double the expected number of spectators attended the event. As a result of this, measures pertaining to crowd control had to be adjusted. “Although we managed to end the event without any incidents, I am truly sorry that we could not bring the disturbance caused to the neighbouring suburbs to an end earlier,” he said.

“We are committed to finding a sustainable solution to those types of challenges that student events at the Rag Farm can offer to the neighbouring residential areas. Therefore we are going to call meetings with residents and community leaders of the residential areas in order to resolve the problems in a collaborative manner,” Mr Buys said.

An internal evaluation of the situation shall also be undertaken in order to rectify any possible errors or shortcomings in the organisation of the Newcomers’ Student Festival, as well as regarding the organisation of future student events.

“We would like to thank residents of the neighbouring residential areas for the exceptional way in which they often exercise patience, show understanding and make allowances for the times when student activities taking place on the Main Campus become demanding. It is therefore important for us to find solutions to challenges in this regard and engage in meaningful cooperation with residents,” said Mr Buys.

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

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