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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

UFS101 prepares new students for life
2012-03-07

7 March 2012

A new core curriculum module, UFS101, was launched in the Callie Human Centre at our Bloemfontein Campus on Monday 27 February 2012.

“We want to give you an education and not just a degree,” Prof. Jonathan Jansen, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, said to the students in his opening address at the launch.

UFS101 is aimed at creating the next generation of citizens and young academics to stand out amongst other graduates in South Africa.

Implicit in the design of UFS101 is the development of engaged scholarship amongst UFS graduates. The curriculum also provides support for under-prepared students, while giving stronger students access to additional stimulation.

The module consists of seven units. Each unit comprises two lectures with either a learning experience or tutorial for each unit. In select cases both are used. Two units are presented in the first semester and five units in the second semester.

UFS101 also exposes students to provocative questions aimed at disrupting existing knowledge and ways of thinking by engaging them in some of the “big issues” across different disciplines, namely:

  • How do we deal with our violent past?
  • What does it mean to be fair?
  • What did God really say?
  • How small is small?
  • Why is the financial crisis described as ‘global’?
  • How do we become South Africans?

UFS 101 is a prerequisite for the completion of a qualification and students will earn an additional 16 credits over and above the minimum number of credits required for the completion of their qualification.

 

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