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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

A campaign that rocks
2012-08-28

Ms Elizabeth Msadu
Linda Fekisi 
27 August 2012

The 2011/2012 Student Representative Council and Wellness Office on our Bloemfontein Campus launched the “We are your rock” campaign during Women’s Month. The campaign is a support system primarily aimed at female students. It addresses issues such as intimate partner violence, prostitution and students who go hungry. The campaign also caters for those in need of career and academic advice.

The idea for such an initiative was born out of a meeting between Dr Dina Darker, a pastor’s wife at the Kovsie Student Church, and Ms Elizabeth Msadu, a social worker at the Wellness Office. “Dr Darker was concerned about rumours regarding improper behaviour of female students and wanted the input of a social worker on the subject,” says Ms Msadu. “Many girls are in relationships with older men, which result in a high level of unplanned pregnancies that often end in abortions.”

How the initiative works is that a student in need will write her name and contact number on a rock or a piece of paper and put it in a box placed in our Women’s Memorial Garden. Ms Msadu empties the box once a week and contacts the student in need. She describes her experience thus far of the campaign as “interesting, exciting and an eye-opener”.
 

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