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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

School dropouts are more vulnerable to HIV
2010-02-02

 Prof. Dennis Francis

Children who drop out of school miss out on information about HIV/Aids and reproduction health, according to research conducted by Prof. Dennis Francis, Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of the Free State.

The research entitled “Towards understanding the way out-of-school youth respond to HIV/Aids” included out-of-school youths as researchers and identified key issues and problems facing them. It covered youths between the ages of 14 to 18.

The study, funded by the Medical Research Council of South Africa, showed that schools played a vital role in providing credible information on HIV/Aids and ways to prevent it.

It also found that these out-of-school youths believed that HIV/Aids was a non-issue and deliberately avoided the subject, with boys being the main culprits.

The researchers found that these youths got their information on HIV/Aids from friends, community healthcare workers, religious leaders, family and other youngsters. The way they responded to HIV/Aids varied and often depended on their social context, effects on their self esteem and sense of power, according to Prof. Francis.

They also discovered that knowledge about HIV/Aids did not necessarily translate into action.

“School-going youth displayed similar difficulties in applying knowledge in real-life situations and lacked the tools for doing so,” he said. “But, unlike school-going youth, out-of-school youth did not have the option of using the school environment to speak about misconceptions.”

These finding will be presented at the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation-funded Hope 2010 Conference in India.

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

 

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