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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 appoints Dr Derek Swemmer as Registrar
2010-09-30

Dr Derek Swemmer

The University of the Free State (UFS) has appointed Dr Derek Swemmer, current Registrar of the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), as its Registrar.

Dr Swemmer, who is currently recognised as one of the most experienced, competent and outstanding registrars in South Africa, will join the UFS as from 1 October 2010. He was Registrar at WITS since 1995.

“I am enthusiastic at the thought of working at the UFS under its new leadership and in a time of change. This appointment creates the opportunity for me to assess the many existing practices of the UFS and to seek to enhance these based on my own experience at WITS,” he said.

Dr Swemmer started his academic career as a part-time student assistant at the University of Pretoria (UP) in 1974. He also taught at the Christ’s Hospital Public School in the United Kingdom and was a full-time lecturer in the Department of English at the University of South Africa (UNISA) until he joined WITS as Personal Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor and Principal in 1985.

Dr Swemmer holds a D Litt et Phil in English from the University of South Africa. He received numerous awards including the South African Golden Key International Honours Society Chapter Adviser of the Year in 2006 and 2008, an extraordinary second Certificate of Honour by the International Education Association of South Africa and the Golden Key International Leadership Council President’s Award.

Dr Swemmer chaired, amongst others, the WITS Issues Management Group and the WITS Crisis Committee; and was an Honorary Treasurer of the International Education Association of South Africa and an Honorary Secretary of the English Academy of Southern Africa.

He authored, co-authored and co-edited a number of text books, journals and magazines. He also delivered a number of papers at national and international conferences.

Dr Swemmer will be taking up the position as the single registrar of the UFS.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (actg)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za  
29 September 2010
 

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