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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

Social entrepreneurship important to eradicate poverty
2012-03-30

 

Here are Rhoda Kadalie and Mark Lotter at the Business School
Photo: Stephen Collett
30 March 2012

Renowned South African human activist and popular columnist Rhoda Kadalie recently visited the Business School to lecture on social entrepreneurship.

Ms Kadalie has been the Executive Director of Impumelelo since 1999. This organisation rewards innovative government and civil society initiatives that improve social service delivery in the eradication of poverty in South Africa.

She was accompanied by Mr Mark Lotter, Fundraiser and Marketing Manager of Impumelelo. Mr Lotter did a presentation on ground-breaking achievements using best-practice South African case studies, e.g. the Mariannhill Landfill Conservancy, Phelophepa Health Train and mothers2mothers.

They elaborated on the principles underlying the work and contributions of Impumelelo to the future well-being of the nation. It was clear from the lecture and the discussions that followed by MBAs, under- and postgraduate students from different faculties, as well as members of the university community, that the debate on social entrepreneurship is highly relevant, much needed and very important.

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