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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 appoints honoured scholar
2010-08-16

Prof. Johann Neethling

The University of the Free State (UFS) has recently appointed Prof. Johann Neethling as a senior professor in the Faculty of Law. Prof. Neethling is a nationally and internationally recognised expert in the field of Private Law, which is also the department he will be joining.

Throughout his career, he has lectured at various universities in South Africa. He also received numerous awards, including a B1 rating as a researcher from the National Research Foundation (NRF). He enjoys considerable international recognition for his high quality research work and he is a leading international scholar in his field.

Prof. Neethling received various scholarships for research and overseas visits, the most prestigious being the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung scholarships for research on unlawful competition at the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany. He also received a graduate fellowship from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He has also been awarded an NRF grant of R80 000 per year to conduct research in Belgium and The Netherlands for the period 2009-2014. He will visit these countries in September this year. Prof. Neethling also received an open invitation from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to apply for a renewed stay in Germany at any time.

He is one of the 25 professors selected by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, to enrich the various faculties at the university. Prof. Neethling will be based in Pretoria. His primary focus will be research outputs in conjunction with the Department of Private Law in the Faculty of Law at the UFS.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
16 August 2010

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