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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

UFS now offers free bus service
2012-03-22

Prospective Kovsie students from Namibia and parts of the Southern Cape will be able to make use of a free bus service to and from the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS).

New first-year students from these areas will be able to travel to the Bloemfontein Campus at no cost. The bus service to and from the UFS will also be available during the April and June holidays.

The bus to Namibia will stop at Kimberley, Upington, Keetmanshoop, Mariental and Windhoek. Parts of the Southern Cape that form part of the service include Colesberg, Beaufort-Wes, Oudtshoorn, Mosselbaai, George and Knysna.

Mr Gerhard van Rhyn, Deputy Director: Marketing at the UFS, says a growing need for a transport service to and from Namibia and the Southern Cape led to the introduction of the free bus service.

“Both Namibia and the Southern Cape are close to the heart of the UFS. Over the years, thousands of students from these areas came to study at our university, and left their mark. A large number of Kovsie Alumni also live in Namibia and the Southern Cape.”

Prospective Kovsies who want to use the bus service will have to apply to use the service and final transport arrangements will be communicated to them directly.

For more information contact Ms Anita Jackson at 051 401 3408 or jacksona@ufs.ac.za.
 

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