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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

Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences gives a warm welcome
2010-02-17

From left: Sanet Snoer and Elanie van der Westhuizen, two of the coordinators of the Academic Support Programme at the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
Photo: Supplied


The Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently held a welcoming event for their B.Com four year curriculum students.
The event focused on the Academic Support Programme that is initiated by the Teaching and Learning division of the faculty. The programme is coordinated by Dr Liezel Massyn, Sanet Snoer and Elanie van der Westhuizen from the Faculty and a large group of around 350 students attended the welcoming event.

According to Me Snoer, the aim of the support programme is to improve throughput rates amongst students. A programme such as this one will help all the students form part of an ever-growing academic culture.

At the event the importance and purpose of the programme was put under the spotlight.
One of the objectives of the programme is to help the students learn how to apply the skills that they learn in the Skills for Lifelong Learning module on the content of two academic modules (Human Resource Management and Business Management).

The students were introduced to the facilitators and faculty staff involved. They had the opportunity to ask questions about any unclear aspects of the programme. Afterwards, the students received guidance whilst registering for the support sessions.
- Lize du Plessis

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