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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 receives exclusive copy of Pasture Science research volume
2010-04-22

 
From the left are: Dr Malcolm Hensley (Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences, UFS), Prof. Brian Roberts, Ms Cathy Giesekke (UFS Sasol Library) and Prof. Neil Heideman (Acting Dean: Natural and Agricultural Sciences, UFS).
Photo: Lize du Plessis


The University of the Free State (UFS) became the proud recipient of a copy of a Pasture Science research volume.

The 508-page volume was presented by Prof. Brian Roberts, an adjunct professor at the James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, to the UFS Sasol Library. It consists of 43 papers on his agricultural research work in the Free State from 1956 to 1975.

He said the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS had the power and expertise to lead the way in food security in South Africa and in building a sustainable society. He also stated that not enough people were taking food security seriously.

“Whatever else you regard as priority, none is more basic than support for the nation’s food producers,” he said.

The papers in the bound copy are arranged in two groups. The first section focuses on Pasture Management. “This series forms a useful overview of Pasture Science,” he said.

The section on Grassland Science covers all aspects of the maintenance, improvement and utilisation of veld and cultivated grasslands.

The second part is a series of publications arising from his fieldwork in the Free State, Eastern Cape and Lesotho.

“Having read with great interest the curriculum vitae of the Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, I felt a strong inclination to contribute somehow to the transformation process and the emerging future UFS,” said Prof Roberts.

Although he acknowledged that change could not happen overnight he was, however, positive that medium-term results could be achieved in that regard.

“One way of doing this is to focus staff and students’ attention on working towards a sustainable society, an on-going curriculum challenge which should, at an early date, replace the past preoccupation with race – an issue that has dogged progress for too long,” he said.

Prof. Roberts was a foundation lecturer in Pasture Science at the UFS 36 years ago before he left for Australia where he plays a fundamental role in land-use planning.

He is also recognised as the father of Landcare, an Australian partnership between the community, government and business to protect and repair the environment.

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

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