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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

Kovsie rugby players represent the UFS internationally
2010-04-17

Jamba Ulengo UFS in the SA Student Sevens Team  
Jamba Ulengo
Foto: Gerhard Louw

This year rugby players from the University of the Free State (UFS) not only excelled at national level when Vishuis won the Steinhoff Koshuis Rugby League and Shimlas managed to play in the semi-finals of the Varsity Cup, but they also achieved great heights in the international sports arena.

Kovsie rugby players Hoffman Maritz, Philip van der Walt and JW Jonker have all been included in the South African Sevens Team since November last year. According to Mr Dougie Heymans from KovsieSport at the UFS, the three players have already played in some of the eight tournaments in, amongst others, Dubai, Australia and Hong Kong and they have acquitted themselves well in the team. They are still going to participate in the tournaments in England (22-23 May 2010) and Scotland (29-30 May 2010) respectively.

Jamba Ulengo will also represent the UFS in the SA Student Sevens Team that is going to participate in the Casablanca University Sevens tournament in Morocco from 1-6 April 2010. The Casablanca University Sevens Tournament is an initiative of the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) that is subscribed and supported by the International Rugby Council to develop rugby in the rest of Africa.

Kovsies Francois du Toit, Jamba Ulengo, Marcel van der Merwe and Nico Scheepers were also part of the SA U/20 group that toured France in February 2010. According to Mr Heymans they also played two games against Argentina in South Africa. “The ‘Jong Bokkies’ won the first match with 39-7. The second match was a 20-20 tie,” he said.
 

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