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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

Kovsie students attend African leadership conference in Stellenbosch
2012-11-26

The proud Kovsie students that will attend the Africa Leads 2012 conference in Stellenbosch.
Photo: Alzane Narrain
26 November 2012

Thirteen of our student leaders have been chosen to attend the Africa Leads 2012 conference in Stellenbosch. The conference takes place from 18 to 21 November at the Spier Wine Farm.

A small function was held on Thursday, 15 November, to celebrate this amazing achievement and wish the students all the best for their participation at the conference.

The thirteen students are: William Clayton (SRC President of the Bloemfontein Campus), Anesu Ruswa, Vusumzi Mesatywa, Lehlohonolo Mofokeng, Hannerie Hay, Tshepo Mabuya, Tumelo Moreri, Lerato Molisana, Goodwill Shelile, Moloi Josian, Kamohelo Mzangwa, Teboho Motloung, Nombulelo Mini.

The Africa Leads programme is a collaborative learning, research and engagement opportunity held by Stellenbosch University Business School in partnership with the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative and the University of Pretoria’s Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership.

The aim of this conference is to establish an African partnership that mobilises and converges the energy of actors across the continent, involved in developing responsible leadership, in order to achieve more collectively than that which they can achieve individually.

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