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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

Report card outlines major achievements
2005-02-04

Staff at the University of the Free State (UFS) have received above-inflation increases in remuneration averaging 18,2 percent since the year 2000, according to the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie.

Delivering a keynote speech at the Official Opening of the UFS today, Prof Fourie gave a report card for the UFS which he said indicated significant progress in salaries and promotions as well as capital expenditure and infrastructure development on the campus.

“The aggregate extra earnings of staff (money in their pockets above inflation) from 2000 to 2005 amount to R75 million in salaries. This is the result of the hard work of all staff and we pay tribute to them,” he said.

Prof Fourie said that several categories of staff are better off than before the financial turn-around strategy was implemented in 2000 which aimed to make the UFS a financially sustainable campus.

The lowest paid workers and professors had received an additional structural correction, which gave professors at the UFS a 27% above-inflation increase (on total remuneration package) since 2000.

He said there had also been a dramatic increase in promotions to associate professor and full professor during the last 6 years.

From 1999 to December 2001, there were only 9 promotions to associate professor. From January 2002 to January 2005, there were 37 such promotions to associate professor, four times as many.

Regarding promotions to full professor, from 1999 to December 2001 there were 7 promotions. From January 2002 to January 2005, there were 31 promotions to full professor, more than four times as many.

“We have also created a new category of senior professor to give due recognition to the outstanding work of our leading academics in many fields,” Prof Fourie said.

The UFS has introduced numerous new and innovative learning programmes, together with an increasing number of community service modules which enhanced the UFS as a leader in service learning and helped to make it a university engaged with its surrounding community.

According to Prof Fourie the number of support staff had also grown along with the professionalisation of the support services.

He said management was aware that there still several challenges regarding staff overload and staff development but that these were being addressed

Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za

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