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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 academic joins an elite league of achievers
2010-04-14

Prof. Dingie van Rensburg, Director of the Centre for Health Systems Research  Development at the University of the Free State
Prof. Dingie van Rensburg
Prof. Dingie van Rensburg, Director of the Centre for Health Systems Research & Development at the University of the Free State (UFS), has joined an elite list of a only few distinguished individuals who have been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Antwerp (UA) in Belgium.

He is only the third South African to be honoured in this way by the UA, following in the footsteps of Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs (2000) and former State President, Nelson Mandela (2004).

He is the first social scientist from South Africa to receive this honorary doctorate from the UA – the highest academic distinction of that university. The university has previously only awarded three honorary doctorates to social scientists: Prof. Raymond Boudon, sociologist at the University of Paris-Sorbonne (1995); Prof. Robert Putman, political scientist at Harvard University (2000); and Prof. John Nash (of A Beautiful Mind fame), mathematician and economist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Princeton.

The award ceremony will take place on 29 April 2010 in Antwerp.

Prof. Van Rensburg has authored, co-authored and was editor of many books/volumes, chapters in books, monographs, research reports and articles in scientific journals. He has also presented and co-presented at numerous national and international conferences; and supervised a significant number of master’s, doctoral and post-doctoral students.

In his 17 years as director of the Centre he has initiated, managed and led approximately 50 research and development projects, several of them large and long-term projects, and many of an inter-institutional and multidisciplinary nature.

In 2002 he became an NRF-rated researcher and in 2007 his rating as an established researcher was renewed. In the past two decades he received several research grants simultaneously from both the National Research Foundation and the Medical Research Foundation of South Africa, mostly for projects on Tuberculosis, HIV/Aids and antiretroviral treatment.

Prof Van Rensburg holds membership of both the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns and the Academy for Science of South Africa; he also served for varying periods on the Councils of both these academies. He was also a member of various health bodies of the Free State Province and the National Science and Technology Forum.

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

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