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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. Heideman appointed new Dean at the UFS
2010-09-27

Prof. Neil Heideman

Prof. Neil Heideman has been appointed as the Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS). His appointment was approved by the UFS Council during its recent meeting.

Prof. Heideman has been acting in this position since February this year, prior to which he was the Vice-Dean of the Faculty. He joined the UFS in 2003 as the Programme Head of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the Qwaqwa Campus.

“I see my role as Dean as that of a facilitator of processes that will further strengthen the faculty’s academic capacity, optimise the research environment and create a stimulating teaching and learning environment in which students can develop into skilled critical thinkers and socially responsible, global citizens,” he said.

He chairs the faculty advisory committees such as the Research Committee, Academic Programmes Committee, Community Service Subcommittee, Employment Equity Committee and Buildings Committee. He represents the faculty on the National Science and Technology Forum and the National Science Deans’ Forum, and is also a panel member of the Rhodes Scholarship Adjudication Committee.

He has about 23 years’ university teaching experience, and as a Fulbright Fellow offered a series of seminars on South African conservation issues to senior undergraduate and graduate students at Brigham Young University in the United States in 2007.

He has won several academic awards and is an NRF-rated scientist.

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

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