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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

Students excel in legal interpreting programme
2010-02-24

Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS with one of the students who received a diploma.
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe


A success rate of 90% was achieved by the first group of 100 students that successfully completed the two-year Diploma in Legal Interpreting at the University of the Free State (UFS).

The group recently received their diplomas at the ceremony held on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein.

The programme, offered by the university’s Department of Afroasiatic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice, in collaboration with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA), is the only one of its kind in South Africa.

“The numbers that we are talking about here, if one looks at the needs of the country as such, is a small fraction,” said Advocate Simon Jiyane, Deputy Director General: Court Services in the Department of Justice.

“This is our first programme in collaboration with the UFS and I am hopeful it will lay a very solid foundation for other such programmes to follow.”

The diplomas were conferred by Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS, on behalf of the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Jonathan Jansen.

He urged the students to use their skills as qualified court interpreters in the context of the challenges that face South Africa such as HIV/Aids, racism, transformation, unemployment, poverty, job losses, and many other such challenges.

“This is the reality we are faced with, all of us,” he said. “It requires skilful and morally upright people to address it adequately and effectively. You are adding up to the number of skilful people in our country and that means you have a critical role to play.”

He said the UFS, as a societal structure, is equally affected by those challenges because of being accountable to and economically dependent on society.

He also urged the students to use their skills to make contributions to the processes of transformation that are underway at the UFS.

“For instance, the UFS as a national asset has to transform to that level of being a true national asset. We need your full participation in this process so that we can together ensure the relevance of this university as a true South African university,” he said.

Advocate Jiyane urged universities to also look at some of the initiatives that the government takes to improve service delivery. One such initiative is a pilot project focusing on the use of indigenous languages in courts.

“Its aim is to ensure that our courts begin to recognise all official languages in terms of conducting their business,” he said.

“It is our responsibility as a department that, through this project, we begin to build those languages so that they are on a par with the other languages that are being utilised in our courts.”

The department has permanently employed two of the students who received their diplomas, while one of them, Ms Nombulelo Esta Meki, was awarded a bursary by SASSETA to study for a BA in Legal Interpreting. Ms Meki was the top achiever of the programme with an average of 86%.

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

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