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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

Springboks choose Kovsies' sports facilities
2010-09-02

The Springbok team boasts five former Kovsies. From the left, front, are: Flip van der Merwe, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, and Gurthro Steenkamp. At the back, from the left, are: Jannie du Plessis, C.J. van der Linde and Juan Smith.
Photo: Gerhard Louw

Over the years the University of the Free State (UFS) has already produced 67 Springbok and 22 Springbok Sevens players. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the Springboks have chosen the UFS’s sports facilities in preparation for their match against Australia this coming Saturday. They will tackle Australia at the Free State Vodacom Park at 17:00. Five former Kovsies are included in this team. They are Flip van der Merwe, Gurthro Steenkamp, Jannie du Plessis, C.J. van der Linde and Juan Smith.

Kovsies have been providing quality rugby for many decades already. During the 2009 rugby season the UFS rugby club produced 12 players for national teams and 73 players for provincial teams (all age groups). This does not include all the former Kovsies. According to Mr Rockey le Roux from KovsieSport at the UFS, there is currently not one South African Super 14 team that does not include a Kovsie or former Kovsie.

The UFS is also equipped to produce top rugby players. Shimla Park is the main field of Shimla rugby, where all the Shimla games are played. Some of the Varsity Cup games are also played on this field. Boom Prinsloo, the Shimla player named as the 2010 player of the Varsity Cup tournament, is included in the current Springbok Sevens practice team. Shimla Park boasts 1 000-lux lights, which let this field comply with international standards.

There are four more rugby fields that are used for residence rugby. Currently 26 rugby teams of the university's residences and three provincial teams practise on the fields.

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