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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 deserves right to decisions
2010-08-15

Following visits of various youth formations to the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Rector and Vice-Chancellor, as well as the Dean of Student Affairs the past week, the university sees the need to remind all stakeholders and outside organisations that, although their views and inputs may be welcomed, the university reserves the right to make decisions regarding student matters and protect our students against suspected influences.

This reminder follows a series of meetings with organisations such as amongst others the Afriforum Youth and the ANC Youth League and subsequent media releases by some of these organisations, which often do not reflect correctly the nature and content of the discussions.

“While we welcome engagement with any organisation serving a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic agenda and regularly invite civil society organisations to dialogue with and assist us in student matters, we reserve the right to decide how to best serve interest of our students,” said Mr Rudi Buys, Dean of Student Affairs at the UFS.

“In our attempt to construct a value-driven, ethically sound and mature student governance environment, we also expect of stakeholders to ensure they engage us maturely and ethically at all times,” Mr Buys said.

“We will guard against organisations that may, under a guise of civil society engagement, wish to continue dysfunctional party-political cultures that fuel divisions and racial tensions among our students. In such cases where organisations by their conduct may prove themselves to do exactly that, we will have no other option but to refuse them entry to campus and set limits to their engagement of our students,” Mr Buys warned.

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

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