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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

Our Abe Bailey scholars are packing for the UK
2011-08-16

 

Nida Jooste and Ryan Lamb
Photo: Earl Coetzee

Academic excellence and strong leadership has become synonymous with our university, as our two Rhodes scholars for 2011, and the recent announcement of our two Abe Bailey scholars from the UFS have shown.

Nida Jooste and Ryan Lamb are two of the proud recipients of Abe Bailey Travel Bursaries and will be heading off to the United Kingdom on 26 August 2011, to visit several universities in England and Scotland. These two were chosen from hundreds of UFS applicants and will join Abe Bailey bursary holders from the rest of the country.

Both students are academic achievers, but also excel in other fields. This is what set them apart from the rest of the applicants for the bursaries.

Ryan (23), a Medical Physics honours student at our Faculty of Health Sciences, received the Senate Medal for the best bachelor’s degree student at the UFS. He was one of a hundred students at the Brightest Young Minds Summit this year and was one of the 2008 delegates to the World Youth Forum, hosted by the International Association for Poetry and Solidarity in Italy.

This young man is the founder of a group called Poets Anonymous, which provides a platform where poets, artists and dancers in Bloemfontein can express themselves.

Nida (21) is a very familiar face on our Bloemfontein Campus, as she served as the Deputy Chairperson of the Interim Student Council for the past year.

This fourth-year LL.B. student says she has known about the Abe Bailey bursary since her first year, but had to wait to apply, since the scholarship is only open to final-year students and junior lecturers. She applied last year, but did not even make it to the short list for candidates.

“I realise now that I was not involved enough then. Luckily I became much more involved in campus activities during the past year and also improved my academic performance greatly,” she says.

Nida and Ryan both hope to use the opportunity to learn new approaches to solving problems. Ryan says he is looking forward to the opportunity to network with other bursary holders and to share experiences with them, before returning to the UFS to implement what he had learned.

Nida says she also hopes to see how universities in First-World Countries operate, in order to apply that knowledge when she returns to the UFS.

 

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