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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

Roosmaryn and Vishuis win residences' cross-country league
2010-09-17

According to Sarina Cronjé of KovieSport at the University of the Free State (UFS), this year’s residences’ cross-country league consisted of six meetings.

The meetings took place in inter-residence format, according to the penalty-point system. All the participants contributed points towards the team total, e.g. first position = 1 point and second position = 2 points, etc. The team with the least points wins. Each residence team consisted of four athletes. If less than four athletes in a team finished, that team was awarded 100 penalty points per athlete for each one less than four athletes. A residence could enter an indefinite number of teams.

Upon completion of the six meetings Roosmaryn won the women’s division, followed by Marjolein in second position and Roosmaryn’s B team in third position. In the men’s division, Vishuis came first, followed by Veritas in the second position and JBM in the third position.

The last meeting, in the form of a 4 x 1 km relay, took place on 1 September 2010. There the team of Kagiso triumphed in the men’s division. Roosmaryn once again won the women’s division. 

-  Sarina Cronjé

 

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