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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

Library opens new horizons for Bloemfontein-Oos School
2012-11-27

Storyteller Gcina Mhlophe is hugging a learner at the Bloemfontein-Oos Intermediary School.
Photo: Kaleidoscope Photography
27 November 2012

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” Dr Seuss says that in his book I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!

It is hoped that this will also be the experience of learners at the Bloemfontein-Oos Intermediary School where a library has been stocked and unveiled with our assistance. Bloemfontein-Oos is one of the schools that the UFS renovated in partnership with the Free State Department of Education.

The learners also had the rare opportunity to listen to a doyenne of South African storytellers Gcina Mhlophe. She is one of the best storytellers, writers, publishers, directors and international poet.

Tessa Ndlovo, coordinator of the UFS Schools Partnership Programme, said she thought it was important for the school to have a library in order to cultivate a culture of reading. She asked publishers and libraries to send books and in the process, more than 2 000 books were donated by the UFS-Sasol Library, staff and students. New books were sent by publishing houses.

The office of Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, sponsored the renovation of the library by donating shelves.

Bloemfontein-Oos became the first school in the UFS’s Extreme Makeover intervention. Attention has been given to fencing, electrification, renovation and the bathrooms. Three truckloads of furniture were donated and more will follow in future. The Calculator Project (Project of Peace) was introduced to the school by students from the United States of America.

The library is part of the Culture of Reading Project.

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