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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

Nano research at the UFS opens door to smart drugs
2011-06-27

 

Prof. Lodewyk Kock, outstanding professor in our Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology

Novel antifungal, anticancer and anti-malaria drugs that have been identified in the research of Prof. Lodewyk Kock, outstanding professor in the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology at our university, will be disclosed later this year at major international conferences in Asia, Europe and the USA. Prof. Kock will be the keynote speaker at these conferences. 

His presentations will be based on the department’s discovery of yeast assays linked to a new nanotechnology for medicine. The assays were recently discovered by his group and can be applied in the development of novel antifungal, anticancer and anti-malaria drugs.
 
Prof. Kock’s focused research at the university, which now also includes his novel nanotechnology for Biology, began in 1982 in collaboration with Prof. Pieter van Wyk (Centre for Microscopy). He recently collaborated with Prof. Hendrik Swart (Department of Physics).
 
Prof. Kock says the development of novel anti-malaria drugs in particular is getting attention across the world due to the high rates of morbidity and mortality caused by the disease worldwide. Approximately 225 million people are infected annually and about a million (many in Africa) die each year. “Many potential smart drugs have been identified with this research and should now be tested further,” says Kock.
  
These new drugs will be disclosed during Prof. Kock’s keynote addresses at the International Conference and Exhibition on Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs in Baltimore, USA, from 6 to 7 September 2011, the Medichem 2011 in Beijing, China from 9 to 11 August 2011 and the XVI Congress of European Mycologists in Greece, from 19 to 23 September 2011.

 

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