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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

UFS honours young researchers
2006-02-10

Some of the guests attending the recognition function were from the left:  Prof Magda Fourie (Vice-Rector:  Academic Planning at the UFS), Mr Joseph Smiles (lecturer at the UFS Department of Political Science and Thuthuka grant holder), Prof Frans Swanepoel (Director:  Research Development at the UFS) and Dr Carlien Pohl (lecturer at the UFS Department of Microbial,  Biochemical and Food Biotechnology and Thuthuka grant holder).
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

The guest speaker was Prof Jonathan Jansen, Dean:  Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria (UP).  He gave tips to young and promising researchers on how to be an outstanding scholar. 
What is a Scholar 

UFS honours young researchers       

The University of the Free State (UFS) last night honoured 24 young researchers who are taking part in the National Research Fund’s (NRF) Thuthuka programme.

The recognition function is the first of its kind at the UFS.  “The renewed focus on research development that was recently announced at the official opening of the UFS by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie, is an indication of the institution’s endeavour to create an environment in which research can be improved and flourish.  This can only be obtained when researchers are being valued and that is why it is important to honour our young researchers,” said Mrs Annelize Venter, researcher at the UFS Research Development Directorate and coordinator of the programme.
 
The focus on research was also touched on recently by President Thabo Mbeki during the opening of Parliament when he said:  “We will continue to engage the leadership of our tertiary institutions focused on working with them to meet the nation’s expectations with regard to teaching and research. For its part, the government is determined to increase the resource allocation for research and development and innovation, and increase the pool of young researchers."

According to Mrs Venter, research done in 2004 shows that the majority researchers who publish are white males above the age of 50.  “Many students who undertake magister studies choose not to conduct research, but rather to do a thesis and additional subjects.  This means that research is not stimulated.  Students also find it difficult to obtain financial support for postgraduate studies,” she explained.
“Thutuka is a capacity building programme of the NRF that is aimed to 
fund and support the qualifications of women and young black scientists and other researchers who do not have a rating for postgraduate research.  It is based on a funding partnership between the UFS and the NRF,” said Mrs Venter.

Last night Prof Frans Swanepoel, Director: Research Development at the UFS, added to his by saying:  “With the Thuthuka programme we aim to create and sustain a research culture at the UFS, promote international research and train researchers of a high quality and enhance the research capacity at the UFS by focusing on women, black researchers and other promising researchers.”
 
The programme was started by the NRF in 2001.  At that stage only 17 grants were made countrywide.  Last year 370 postgraduate students took part in the programme.

According to Mrs Venter the programme was implemented at the UFS in 2003.  “At that stage we only had 5 grant holders.  This year there are 24 Ph D and magister students on the programme,” she said. 

A couple of young promising researchers, who will be participating in the programme in 2007, also attended last night’s recognition function.

The guest speaker was Prof Jonathan Jansen, Dean:  Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria (UP).  He gave tips to young and promising researchers on how to be an outstanding scholar.

Nine professors were also congratulated with their promotion to senior research professor, namely Proff Louise Cilliers (Department of English and Classical Languages), James du Preez (Department of Microbial,  Biochemical and Food Biotechnology), Johan Grobbelaar (Department of Plant Sciences), Dingie Janse van Rensburg (Centre for Health Systems Research and Development), Dap Louw (Department of Psychology), Philip Nel (Department of Afro-asiatic Studies and Language Practice and Sign Language), Louis Scott (Department of Plant Sciences), Dirk van den Berg (Department of History of Art) and  Andries Raath (Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law).

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
10 February 2006

 

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