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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

New York academic pays visit to UFS
2010-08-02

 
 Prof. Teboho Moja, a professor of Higher Education at NYU, paid a successful visit to the UFS. Here are, from left: Mr John Samuel, Interim Director: International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, UFS; Dr Bryan Urbsaitis, Assistant-Director of Study Abroad, Pace University, USA; Prof. Moja; Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, UFS; and Dr Olihile Sebolai, Directorate Research Development, UFS.
Photo: Arthur Johnson
 
Prof. Teboho Moja, a professor of Higher Education from New York University (NYU), paid a fruitful visit to the University of the Free State (UFS). During her visit Prof. Moja, who is originally from South Africa, engaged with various stakeholders to further strengthen relations between the UFS and NYU.

Prof. Moja’s research focus is on the change in higher education and the implications of globalisation on higher education systems. As part of her visit to the UFS, Prof. Moja delivered a public lecture, entitled “Diversity oriented transformation for Teaching and Learning”. The lecture was presented by the Directorate Research Development and the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice.

Prof. Moja studied at the University of the Witwatersrand and obtained her Doctorate in Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States of America (USA).

In 1998 she became the first black woman to be appointed as chairperson of the council of the University of South Africa (UNISA). She is also an honorary professor at the University of Pretoria (UP).

On her visit to the UFS Prof. Moja was accompanied by Dr Bryan Urbsaitis from Pace University in New York and Ms Gina Canterucci from NYU. She also led a group of postgraduate students in International Education Studies. These students interacted with fellows from the Grow Our Own Timber Programme of the UFS. The interaction greatly contributed towards enhancing both student groups’ acuity on academic and social matters.

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