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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 more accessible for persons with disabilities
2010-04-22

After millions of rands have already been spent on making its buildings more accessible to people with disabilities, the University of the Free State (UFS) is embarking on a new drive to make the Main Campus more user-friendly for its students and staff with disabilities.

Recently the UFS completed a report with recommendations to upgrade more of its buildings in this regard.

The university is already a leader with regard to its services to students with disabilities and is drawing students from all over the country. The Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) at the UFS offers support to approximately 120 students.

According to Prof. Niel Viljoen, Vice-Rector: Operations, it remains an ongoing process that should constantly be reviewed. Following a prioritised strategic plan, the UFS is upgrading the bathrooms and elevators in its buildings as well as the ramps and parking spaces.

In the new drive a number of future projects have been identified to make the buildings as well as the Main Campus more accessible and user-friendly for persons with disabilities:

Ramps will be added at the entrances to four more buildings. The entrances to the Geology and Geography Buildings will also be made more accessible. An access ramp from the parking area to the pavement will also be added at the CR de Wet Building (housing the Departments of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy).

To make classrooms on higher levels accessible, the UFS is looking into the possibility of installing elevators in four more buildings. The university is also investigating the possibility of stair lifts in two of its buildings. Existing elevators on campus will also be upgraded.

More allocated parking spaces for persons in wheelchairs will also be provided closer to buildings.

Accessible bathrooms for persons with disabilities will be added in five more buildings on campus.

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

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