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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

Construction at Qwaqwa Campus creates jobs for local community
2010-05-28

At the construction site hand-over ceremony are, from the left: Dr
Elias Malete, Dr Dipane Hlalele, Prof. WF van Zyl and Mr Derek Canavan
(Freelance Construction)
Photo: Thabo Kessah


Local labour is set to benefit from at least 20 job opportunities that will be created during the building of new facilities valued at R13,5 million for the Faculty of Education on the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS).

This was announced by Mr Derek Canavan, an architect from Freelance Construction, during the sod-turning ceremony held on the construction site recently.

The soon to be built facilities will include a 100-seater lecture hall, two 50-seater classrooms, an office block, ablution facilities, two separate laboratories for biology and science, as well as an IT laboratory with 70 work stations. All these facilities will be user-friendly to the disabled students.

Addressing a contingent of brains behind the project that included Mr Nico Janse van Rensburg, Manager of Physical Planning at the UFS, Dr Elias Malete, the Qwaqwa Campus Principal, said that this addition to the existing infrastructure would enable the campus to meet its enrolment and output challenges.

“These new facilities will no doubt increase the university’s academic and research capacity and will certainly help us respond positively to Minister Blade Nzimande’s call to institutions of higher learning to improve on scientific research. We are therefore pleased with this multi-million rand investment from the National Department of Education and the UFS,” he concluded.

Also attending was Dr Dipane Hlalele, Programme Head in the faculty, who was also pleased with the new facilities. “These facilities will help us to answer to our community’s needs of pre-school and foundation-phase teacher training which will be added to our study programme in January 2011. We will be introducing a new B.Ed. degree in Pre-school and Foundation phases and these facilities will help in the production of quality teachers for the benefit of our community,” he said.

The new building is expected to be ready for usage in June 2011.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (acting)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za  
27 May 2010
 

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