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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

SRC elections continue despite illegal protests on UFS Main Campus
2011-08-17

After today’s (17 August 2011) illegal protest by about 150 demonstrators from outside the university in front of the Main Building on our Bloemfontein Campus, Mr Rudi Buys, Dean: Student Affairs, said the elections for a Representative Student Council still continues. “Student Council candidates will continue with their campaign and, as agreed, no external politics will be allowed in the elections.”

Student leaders have expressed their frustration with the outside groups who interfere with processes on campus.

The UFS was the target of a group of people from outside the university who protested in front of the Main Building. The group, armed with sticks and bricks, had no clear demands other than that the UFS Council should be dissolved and management fired. It appears that some of the outsiders – from places such as Welkom and Kroonstad – did not know what they came to do at the university.

No students were involved in the protest action.

During the demonstration, the police and campus security were deployed and some of the demonstrators were arrested.

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector said: “The UFS is worried about the thuggish behaviour by outside groups invading the university campus. An urgent interdict has been obtained and any further invasions by outside groups will lead to arrest.”

The illegal process had no impact on the academic programme at the university. Everything continues as normal.

 
Media Release
17 August 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za
 

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