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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

Measures to ensure safer campuses are investigated
2010-04-16

The safety of students, lecturers and staff of the University of the Free State (UFS) is of the utmost importance for the management of this institution and deliberations are continuously taking place on what can be done to improve the levels of safety of the respective campuses in Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa.

A set of recommendations was recently tabled by our rectorate that make provision for various measures for safer campuses. According to Prof. Niel Viljoen, Vice-Rector: Operations at the UFS, attention will urgently be paid to the following recommendations:

  • The instalment of alarm systems, linked to the central security control room, in all buildings on the respective campuses.
  • The instalment of “panic systems” in strategic places in buildings.
  • Where possible, better admission control to buildings, especially office blocks.
  • Better management en integration of contracted-in security workers.
  • Enhancement/upgrading and better monitoring of the security control room and sharpening of reaction times in cases of emergency.
  • Repair and maintenance of the current border fencing.
  • A survey was once again done of all the so-called “dark spots” on campus and the instalment more effective lighting are currently in progress.
  • Safeguarding of footways and parking areas by means of cameras and panic systems that will be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Better and more visible patrolling of the pedestrian walkways and campuses.

Regular and structured feedback regarding the safety situation at all campuses shall also be done.

According to Prof. Viljoen the following recommendations shall also be investigated further:

- The feasibility of the “closing” of the campus, especially in terms of transport implications, costs and effectiveness.
- The possible closing of the small pedestrian gates in order to channel pedestrian traffic through the existing and manned gates.
- The feasibility of the compulsory wearing of ID cards by all personnel, students and temporary workers.
 

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