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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

Prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to Senior Researcher
2010-05-27

University of the Free State, Ms Melody Mentz.Prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to Senior Researcher 
Ms Melody Mentz.


Ms Melody Mentz, Ph.D. student and Senior Researcher at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Division for Student Development and Success (SDS) has been awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship award to work on her Ph.D. in the United States of America (USA). This award has only been granted to a limited number of students from the UFS in the past.

For the 12-month duration of the scholarship, Ms Mentz will be based at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. During this time she will be doing a part-time internship at the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Institute. Ms Mentz will also be completing doctoral level coursework in the School of Education’s Higher Education and Student Affairs programme. She intends to complete her Ph.D. thesis during her time abroad.

Both her Ph.D. and research work at SDS focus on factors influencing the success of students in South African higher education and the impact of student engagement on student success. More specifically, her Ph.D. focuses on how high-school experiences and expectations of higher education influence the success of first-year students at the UFS.

Ms Mentz completed her B.Com (Human Resource Management), as well as the rest of her postgraduate studies in Psychology at the UFS, obtaining all her qualifications with distinction. She was also the recipient of the Dean’s medal for the best honours student in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences in 2006, and the Kovsie Dux student of the year in 2005.

Ms Mentz will be departing for the USA during August of 2010.
 

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