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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

Judge Ian van der Merwe unanimously re-elected as Chairperson of the UFS Council
2012-11-29

 
Judge Ian van der Merwe
Photo: Rian Horn
29 November 2012

The Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) unanimously re-elected Judge Ian van der Merwe as its Chairperson for the next three years at its last meeting for this year on Friday, 16 November 2012.

Judge Van der Merwe is a Judge of the Free State High Court. He is an alumnus of the UFS and has been a member of the Council since 9 March 2007.

In accepting his appointment, Judge Van der Merwe said that he was honoured and humbled to lead a Council of this calibre for a second term. “The Council is setting a good example of what good governance at a higher education institution should look like. Meetings are conducted in good spirit and decisions made in the best interest of the university,” he said.

“Having sat on councils of many universities before, I can say with great surety that, on balance of expertise and backgrounds, the UFS has one of the most effective councils in the country and, to have a Chairperson of Judge Van der Merwe’s stature, is a privilege. His leadership and guidance is greatly appreciated,” said Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector.

Mr Edward Kieswetter, Group CEO and Executive Director of Alexander Forbes and Deputy Chairperson of the UFS Council, and Mr Jonathan Crowther (former editor of Volksblad) have been re-elected for a further term of four years in the category: "Appointed by the Council".

External Council members were given a tour of the Bloemfontein Campus after the meeting, followed by an induction session for new council members.

New Council members who joined this year are: 

Derek Foster, in the category appointed by the Council
Ruben Gouws, elected by the non-academic staff
Lorraine Kriek, elected by the Alumni
Themba Mmabi, representative of the Minister of Higher
Education and Training
Sabelo Khumalo, SRC President, Qwaqwa Campus
William Clayton, SRC President, Bloemfontein Campus
Suraya Jawodeen, representative of the Minister of Higher
Education and Training
Mr Dan Mosia, representative of the Minister of Higher Education and Training
 

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