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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 appoints director for Kovsiesport
2005-02-03

The Executive Management of the University of the Free State ’s (UFS) has approved the appointment of Mr James Letuka as Director of KovsieSport. Mr Letuka has been acting in this position since the long leave and retirement of Mr Ewie Cronjé last year.

Mr Letuka joined the UFS in 1997 as a researcher at the Unit for Research into Higher Education (URHE) and was promoted to manager in the office of the Vice-rector: Student Services in 2001. He was seconded to KovsieSport in 2003.

“I am delighted with the appointment and accept the challenges linked to this position and commit myself to the advancement of sport at the UFS. I aim to broaden the participation of the UFS in sport at a competitive level and would also like to broaden the access to sport for students who would like to be involved in sport for recreational purposes,” says Mr Letuka.

According to Mr Letuka sport is a suitable vehicle that can bring students of different backgrounds together and it can be used to normalise and enhance relations on campus. “I would also like to help the Vista and Qwaqwa campuses to fall within the sporting culture of the UFS,” says Mr Letuka.

Mr Letuka is Vice-president of the South African Tennis Association (SATA) and also represents SATA on the South African Olympic Committee.

Media release Issued by: Lacea Loader Media Representative Tel: (051) 401-2584 Cell: 083 645 2454 E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za 3 February 2005

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