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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

Graduation ceremony awaited with great excitement
2011-06-22

Everything is running according to plan on the Bloemfontein Campus of our university for the graduation ceremony of Ms Oprah Winfrey, which is taking place in the Callie Human Centre today, 24 June 2011. 

The graduation ceremony, during which an Honorary Doctorate in Education will be conferred upon Ms Winfrey, promises to be something special. Measured against the smooth course of the preparations, the speed at which the tickets were obtained and the continuous interest amongst UFS staff and students, as well as members of the public, this promises to be a real 2011 highlight for all who are going to attend the event. 

Strict safety and security measures shall be enforced and therefore, ticket holders are requested to make sure that they arrive early on the Bloemfontein Campus. 

The UFS is aware of the fact that tickets are sold illegally at shopping centres in Bloemfontein. Computicket equipment shall be used on the premises tomorrow to ensure that only persons who have original tickets in their possession are admitted. People found to be in possession of forged tickets tomorrow shall be prosecuted. 

The doors of the Callie Human Centre shall open at 13:00 on Friday for ticket holders and shall be closed strictly at 14:00. For safety and security reasons, nobody shall be allowed to enter or leave the building after the doors were closed. 

Although the entrance gates to the Bloemfontein Campus shall not be closed, certain streets on the campus will be closed for some time today (23 June 2011) and the whole of Friday (24 June 2011). More information about this is available at www.ufs.ac.za 

Clear signs, as well as voluntary staff, shall guide parking visitors to their parking spaces. The volunteers were selected after staff of all three campuses offered their assistance for the day. 

Amongst the 4 500 guests attending the graduation ceremony are various well-known personalities and dignitaries, alumni, learners and other stakeholders of the university. Good reaction has also been received from the local, national and international media. 

The programme in the Callie Human Centre is as follows: 

13:00 Doors open
14:00 Doors close
14:30 Opening performances
15:30 Graduation ceremony
16:00 Ms. Winfrey’s speech and question and answer session with students
18:00 Programme ends.
 

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