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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

Almost there…final date for exams is 17 November 2012
2012-11-16

A student enjoys a free moment on one of our art pieces on the Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo: Renè-Jean van der Berg
14 November 2012

The Year-end exams will come to an end this week, with more Kovsie students returning home to start their vacation. The final date for exams is 17 November 2012. Students who were unable to write at the first opportunity due to illness or other obligations, as well as those wanting to improve their marks, will have another opportunity with the supplementary opportunity exams starting on 26 November 2012. The final date for these exams is 8 December 2012.

Ian Hartley, a third-year student in Social Sciences, is one of the students who are still on the Bloemfontein Campus. Ian writes his final paper on Friday and says he is looking forward to the holidays. He will leave for Port Elizabeth in December to attend the South African Universities’ cricket tournament.

Ntheboheng Mopeli is also still on Campus. The third-year LLB student will write her two final papers this week.

Tabisa Tandathu, a first-year BSc student, wrote her final paper this week and will still be on Campus for another week before returning to her home town in the Eastern Cape. “I look forward to spending time with my family.”

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