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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 Law Clinic launches Access to Justice Cluster in the Eastern Free State
2010-05-13

In order to initiate support services for various paralegal associations in the Eastern Free State, the Law Clinic at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently launched the Free State Access to Justice Cluster. The cluster that is funded by Atlantic Philanthropists is managed by the UFS Law Clinic as part of their community engagement initiatives.

The overall objective of the cluster is to increase access to justice to rural and indigent communities in the region. Furthermore, quality legal services will be provided to all individuals and groups whose fundamental rights have been abused; the professional capacity of paralegals will be improved; and workshops will be facilitated to inform communities regarding their rights and duties to empower them.

Adv. Inez Bezuidenhout from the UFS Law Clinic says, “The clinic envisages reaching the aforesaid objectives through the provision of support legal services; providing training, assisting with the dissemination of information and lobbying for a stronger and an expanded network of stakeholders in the access to justice arena.”

This initial meeting, attended by various delegates from the Eastern Free State region, was mainly geared towards the identification of challenges and to establish solutions to the problems experienced by paralegals in the provision of legal services in rural communities.

“The cluster is a non-governmental organisation independent of any political party or religious affiliation. It comprises different organisations all aimed at assisting indigent community members with access to justice,” says Adv. Bezuidenhout.

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