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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 informs judicial officers about human trafficking
2010-08-11

At the conference on human trafficking for judicial officers were, from the left: Prof. Johan Henning, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the UFS; Mr Ace Magashule, Premier of the Free State; Chief Justice, Justice S Nqcobo; Mr Andries Nel, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development; and Judge Faan Hancke, acting Judge President of the Free State.

Photo: Stephen Collett

The Faculty of Law’s Centre for Judicial Excellence at the University of the Free State (UFS) in cooperation with the South African Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s Gender Directorate hosted a conference for judicial officers from the Magistrate’s Courts, the Regional Courts and the High Courts on “Human trafficking: Equal rights, equal opportunities and progress for all”.

The Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr Andries Nel delivered a keynote address at this event. He said that anti-human trafficking legislation would be passed in the near future. Also delivering a key note address at the conference was the Chief Justice, Justice Sandile Nqcobo.

The aim of the conference was to empower judicial officers on the topic of human trafficking. A number of presentations from amongst others Adv. Beatri Kruger from the UFS’s Unit for Children’s Rights served to inform magistrates and judges about the characteristics, causes, the human trafficking process and the consequences of human trafficking on victims. Delegates also discussed the impact of human trafficking on human rights and the comprehensive response to human trafficking with a clear focus on the victims’ rights during criminal proceedings.

This conference was attended by 100 judicial officers from across South Africa. 

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