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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

Do universities need theology faculties?
2012-03-27

 

From left to right: Ms Anlené Taljaard, Department of Systematic Theology, Prof. Francois Tolmie, Dean: Faculty of Theology and Prof. Alan Boesak of the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice. All three are from the UFS.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs
27 March 2012


Challenges facing training in theology in South Africa was the focus of a public lecture by Prof. Alan Boesak of the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice at the university. Prof. Boesak is one in a series of speakers who were invited by the university’s Faculty of Theology to discuss the broader theme of the transformation of knowledge. The presence of a faculty of theology at a public university has been a point of discussion in many circles.

“Our country needs an RDP of the soul and who better than the theology faculties to make a contribution in this regard?” asked Prof. Boesak.
 
“An important challenge for a faculty of theology lies in the content that theology students learn. Does the content reflect the context of South Africa today? Theology students must be prepared to make a positive, meaningful contribution in their congregations and communities within the realities of South Africa,” Prof. Boesak said.
 
Prof. Boesak’s lecture was attended by not only lecturers and students in theology, but also staff members from several other departments on the university’s Bloemfontein Campus.
 
Several national and international speakers will present guest lectures during the year in order to sketch a more complete picture of the “transformation of knowledge”.

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