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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 opens new Research and UDRAW writing unit
2010-08-27

 
Ms Huibré Lombard, Prof. Driekie Hay and Prof. Louis Venter in front of the newly opened UDRAW facility in the UFS Sasol Library.
Photo: Christiaan van der Merwe

The Library and Information Services Division at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently opened two brand-new facilities in the UFS Sasol Library, which includes a new research unit for postgraduate students as well as a new UDRAW Unit (Unit for the Development of Rhetorical and Academic Writing).

The opening of both units is the culmination of planning that originally started with Ms Huibré Lombard, Acting Director of the division Library and Information Services at the UFS, and Prof. Louis Venter, Head of UDRAW, back in 2005. The facilities were officially opened by the Vice-Rector: Teaching and Learning, Prof. Driekie Hay.

The research centre caters for postgraduate students, specifically for those studying towards a Masters or Doctoral degree at the UFS. The centre will help students by supplying advanced research information and specialised staff to cater for their needs. It will also serve as a quiet environment where students can come and work. The UDRAW facility will help shape the writing of postgraduate students as well as supervisors and also provide classes and consultations to further develop the research language of the students. An added benefit for students is that both services are provided free of charge to registered senior postgraduate students at our university.

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