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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

Business leaders impressed with our university
2011-08-18

 

David Nkwenkweza, an employee of the Unit for Students with Disabilities at the UFS, with from the left: Gerhard Joubert, Head: Group Marketing and Stakeholder Relations at PPS Insurance; Tsholo Diale, Corporate Social Investment Manager at Afrisam, and Mpho Letlapo CEO of the Sasol Inzalo Fund
Photo: Phelekwa Mpono

Business leaders from some of South Africa’s top companies visited our Bloemfontein Campus on Tuesday, 16 August 2011. Business leaders, which included chief executive officers (CEOs) and top managers from companies, such as Intel, First National Bank and Mediclinic flew in from Johannesburg. They were taken on a trip around campus, meeting university staff and students.

The purpose of the visit was to introduce them to the UFS and some of its projects. It was furthermore to share ideas about what role the university need to play in preparing future leaders for the market place.
 
Walking around campus, the group of business leaders visited the different faculties, some departments, as well as the bustling Thakaneng Student Centre.
 
Ms Mpho Lethlapo, CEO of the Sasol Inzalo Fund, said the UFS campus was different from what she had envisioned. She was impressed with our Unit for Students with Disabilities and said the outstanding facilities at the unit were a necessity as people with disabilities form part of society.
 
Mr Pule Mokoena, Group Executive: Sales and Marketing of Innovation said his trip to the university was an eye-opener as he had certain perceptions about the university. He expressed admiration towards Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, and said his outlook towards learning was commendable. Mr Mokoena furthermore said the people on the UFS campus were more open-minded than what he had expected and said everywhere he went staff said they only wanted what was best for their students. According to Mr Mokoena, Kovsie students are the type of graduates business leaders want to employ.
 

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