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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

Curtains fall on Darwin lecture series
2010-02-03

The University of the Free State (UFS), in collaboration with the Central University of Technology and the National Museum in Bloemfontein, will host the final lecture of the Charles Darwin lecture series entitled "The story of life and survival" as part of the 200-years celebration of Charles Darwin’s birthday on Thursday, 11 February 2010.

The lecture titled Trends in evolution and their bearing on the future of humankind will be presented by Prof. Bruce Rubidge and Prof. Terence McCarthy from the University of the Witwatersrand and co-authors of the book The Story of Earth and Life.

Last year, when the year-long lecture series started, several lectures were presented by academics from various departments at the UFS.
Prof. Marian Tredoux and Mr Johan Loock from the Department of Geology presented lectures on The origin of our solar system and The geological evolution of our planet: the first billion years, respectively.

"Transitions and extinctions" was the topic of another lecture presented by Dr Jennifer Botha-Brink, a paleontologist at the National Museum and affiliated to the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the UFS. She discussed the causes of mass extinctions and their effects on the world's organisms.

The Department of Genetics also made their contribution to this lecture series in the form of two lectures on the genetic foundation of evolution presented by the Head of the Department, Prof. Johan Spies and Prof. Paul Grobler, an Associate Professor in the Department.

Next followed lectures on the evolution of the information and communication technology that were presented by the Departments of Communication Science, Chemistry, Physics, and Computer Science and Informatics, which focused on communication in a manufacturing environment, the knowledge explosion and the broadband universe.

This final lecture of the series will be presented in the CR Swart Auditorium on the UFS Main Campus at 18:00. Limited seats are available and bookings can be made by contacting Ms Isabel Human at humanci@ufs.ac.za or 051 401 2427 before or on Monday, 8 February 2010.

Media Release:
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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