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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 reflects on the life of Charlotte Maxeke
2011-08-05

 

Some of the guests who attended the Charlotte Maxeke Lecture were from the left front: Carol Mokobe; Director of the Free State Provincial Government Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities; Prof.Driekie Hay, Vice-Rector: Academic; Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training; Dr.Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations(actg); Prof. Nicky Morgan, Vice-Rector: Operations. Back from the left are: Dr. Derek Swemmer, Registrar and Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Vice-Rector: Institutional Affairs.
Photo: Stephen Collett

More than 200 people, amongst them the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Prof.  Hlengiwe Mkhize, came together at our university to reflect on the life of ANC Women’s League stalwart Charlotte Maxeke, during the Charlotte Maxeke Memorial Lecture organised annually by the Free State Provincial Government and our university as a lead-up to National Women’s Day on Tuesday, 9 August 2011.

This year was the fourth memorial lecture and Prof. Mkhize delivered the main address under the theme “Women’s access to education, science and technology for economic growth and development in bringing about positive change, living in extraordinary times”

Prof. Mkhize told guests Charlotte Maxeke’s life was too rich and complex to capture during the night and listed many of Maxeke’s achievements during her life and times. These included Maxeke being the first woman to graduate with a science degree from the University of Wilberforce, Ohio.  Prof. Mkhize said Charlotte Maxeke’s science degree was not a personal achievement, because she went back to the people and served by opening the Wilberforce Institute in Evaton, Vereeniging, after her return from the United States.

Prof. Mkhize applauded our university for organising the lecture, saying the university’s commitment was appropriate for the contribution Charlotte Maxeke made to women’s empowerment.  She said government have a huge interest in our university and said the lecture provided an opportunity to dialogue and to use the experience to improve the country’s institutions. Delivering the last part of her address, Prof. Mkhize said she hopes the lecture will lead to great things, with the local community also becoming involved in organising the event.

Dr. Choice Makhetha, Acting Vice-Rector:  External Relations, announced at the event that the university will open a women’s memorial garden on Tuesday, 9 August 2011  to honour women who made a contribution in society.
 

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