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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

Main Entrance at our Bloemfontein Campus now officially open
2011-08-12

 

Kovsies architectural student, Michael Cronjé, at the Main Entrance of our university. Cronjé came up with the design for the Main Entrance.
Photo: Rian Horn

Vice-Chancellor and Rector of our university, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, said the new Main Entrance is a proud legacy to the university.

This colourful Main Entrance was officially opened by the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof. Jonathan Jansen,  on 8 August 2011 after construction had started earlier this year.

Prof. Jansen told the small group of people who attended the event that the gate symbolised a university where things were happening, a university which was transforming academically. It also symbolises the brand of the university that was launched earlier this year.

Prof. Jansen praised Kovsies architectural student, Michael Cronjé, who proposed the design for the Main Entrance. He told the fourth-year student that his children would be proud of his legacy to the university one day.

Cronjé designed the Main Entrance in his third year of study as part of a class competition. The architectural student’s design was developed further by The Roodt Partnership architectural firm. Cronjé says that his design with seven colourful columns symbolises the seven faculties of the university.

 

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