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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

Prof. Jansen is a "charmer", say students
2010-09-14

Prof. Jansen with Transport personnel.
Prof. Jansen with a B.Ed. student, Nokubonga Mdlalose.
Prof Jansen with Mr Samuel Mensah.
Prof Jansen with Sibusiso Macu, Sindiswa Masango, Mbali Phakathi and Masebabatso Mofokeng.
Prof. Jansen with Ms Mtombeni (in a white coat )

CHARMING, DOWN TO EARTH, STREEWISE … these are some of the words staff and students on the Qwaqwa Campus used to describe our Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Jonathan Jansen during his recent courtesy visit to the campus.

Prof. Jansen easily mingled and joined in conversations like a person who was acquainted to the groups of friends that he spoke to. Topics ranged from “girlfriends and boyfriends, how easy or difficult that course was, this and that party”, and of course serious academic talk.

“Prof. Jansen jokingly asked me about my white coat and whether I was a medical doctor. And when I answered that I am a cleaners’ supervisor, he became more interested in what I had to tell him,’ said Ms Dineo Mtombeni, a Maintenance Services supervisor.

“He continued to praise me and my colleagues for the cleanliness on campus and I must say he showed that he is a caring person, despite his position,” concluded Ms Mtombeni.

“I was happy to see Prof. Jansen chatting informally with students and staff. I asked him what he thought of our campus and he said he would know it better once he started teaching here once or twice a week,” said Mr Samuel Mensah, Economics lecturer.

“I then invited him to present some Economics classes and he roared with laughter about the difficulty of dealing with our micro and macro aspects of the subject and I asked him to keep it down as that would justify my students’ fear of the subject,” laughed Mr Mensah.

“He is a nice and friendly person,” said a 19-year-old Bachelor of  Commerce student Masebabatso Mofokeng.

“We shared a joke or two with him and it was one of our best experiences here on campus,” added friends, Sindiswa Masango (19) and Mbali Phakathi (19), who are also studying for their Bachelor of Commerce degrees.

A Bachelor of Education student, Nokubonga Mdlalose (20) described Prof. Jansen as a ‘charmer’.

“He is generous with his time, despite the high position that he occupies. He is approachable, friendly, charming, cool, calm and collected,” said Nokubonga.

“He asked me about my studies and I told him I wanted to make a difference in as far as teaching science is concerned. He was very interested in my Biology experiments and I am so glad I met him,” concluded Nokubonga.

– Thabo Kessah

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