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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

Winter school for international visitors
2011-07-28

 

Here are, from the left, front: Vinita Verma (India), Gayatai Sharma (India), Ambar Istiyani (Indonesia); back: Frank Nieuwenhuizen (Netherland); Vicky Hölsgens (Netherland) and Dewi Cahya Ambarwati (Indonesia)
Photo: Hannes Pieterse

A group of activists, postgraduate students and staff from civil society organisations are currently visiting our Bloemfontein Campus to discuss issues of diversity and development. The group of 19 people from countries such as India, Indonesia, Uganda, the Netherlands and South Africa are part of the 2011 annual international winter school on Pluralism and Development, which is hosted by our International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice. It is the first time that the winter school is held in South Africa since its launch in 2004.

The first class of the winter school started on 11 July 2011 and participants attend daily lectures where they engage in critical thinking about issues such as sustainable development, identity, reconciliation and pluralism. On Thursday 21 July 2011 our Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen presented a lecture on reconciliation to participants where he spoke lengthily about South Africa’s traumatic past. Classes will come to an end on 5 August 2011.

During their stay at our university participants also visited Gauteng where they spent time at the Apartheid museum, Constitutional Hill and Freedom Park. Later this week they will visit our Qwaqwa Campus.

Indonesian participant, Ms. Dewi Cahya Ambarwati, said she is looking forward to the Qwaqwa visit, where she will show off her traditional dance. Ambarwati said during their visit to Freedom Park, she managed to trace back Indonesian ancestors in the museum’s slavery section. Another participant, Mr. Frank Nieuwenhuizen from the Netherlands, said the winter school is enriching because it makes you realise what it means to deal with differences.

The international Winter School on Pluralism and Development is an initiative of the Kosmopolis Institute of the University of Humanistic Studies, in cooperation with the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos).

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