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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

University welcomes new first-year students
2014-01-20

 

"Welcome to Kovsieland! The time of your life has just begun."

With these words Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, welcomed thousands of new first-year students. They attended a welcome ceremony with parents and guardians on the Bloemfontein Campus.

The arrival of first-year students saw the campus come to life, with the area in front of the Main Building turned into an open-air venue. A festive atmosphere prevailed, with live music filling the air and residences camping on the grass surrounding the area. Those who came out to welcome the new first-years, included members of the rectorate, the deans of all seven faculties and the student leadership.

"You are the smartest in the country," Prof Jansen told the new Kovsie students, informing them that thousands applied, but did not make it because of limited space. "We took the best students," he informed the large crowd, telling them that the more than 4 000 new Kovsies come from all over South Africa and the continent.

"This university is about high academic standards for its staff and its students. This is a place where we respect people, irrespective of where they come from, how they pray and how they love," Prof Jansen added.

Prof Jansen brought laugher to the audience, sharing tips for first-years from senior students, among them jewels like, "Wear flip-flops in the shower, you never know what the science students left behind" and "Don't keep your boyfriend back home, you never know what you will get at the university."

Phiwe Mathe, SRC President of the Bloemfontein Campus, added to the list of tips, telling first-years to have a hunger for knowledge and be open minded. "Participate in life on campus and ask important questions," he urged them. "There is plenty to learn at this university. "

Here is an idea where our students come from:
Eastern Cape: 395
Free State: 1701
Gauteng: 632
KwaZulu-Natal: 692
Limpopo: 333
Mpumalanga: 211
Northern Cape: 313
North-West Province: 243
Western Cape: 171

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