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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

Kovsies foster closer ties with Asian universities
2012-03-19

 

The UFS’s exhibition at the second International Seminar and QS MasterClass on Internationalisation of Higher Education (iQS) in Thailand.
19 March 2012


We increased our stature in Asia by presenting the International Seminar and QS MasterClass on Internationalisation of Higher Education (iQS) in Thailand in cooperation with four universities from the region.

The UFS presented the seminar together with Mahasarakham University of Thailand, Guangxi University for Nationalities in China, Universiti Teknologi Malayisiaand the University of the Philippines Diliman. The UFS’s involvement in the seminar is the result of a cooperation agreement that was signed with Mahasarakham University, the host of the seminar. The UFS is the first university in Africa that has a cooperation agreement with Mahasarakham.
 
Prof. Driekie Hay, Vice-Rector: Academic, and Prof. Annette Wilkinson, Professor-Researcher at the Centre for Teaching and Learning, represented the UFS. They ensured that delegates to the seminar were aware of what was happening at Kovsies. Prof. Hay took part in a panel discussion. She also delivered a paper in which she looked at the implications of internationalisation on curricula. The UFS also had an exhibition at the event.
 
Prof. Wilkinson said the seminar offers universities in that part of the world the opportunity to improve their position internationally by exchanging knowledge and ideas. She said the approximately 130 delegates showed considerable interest in the UFS.
“A number of Mahasarakham University’s lecturers and management, as well as some of the other delegates, expressed an interest in visiting the UFS and in fostering closer ties.”

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