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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

International speakers unite to discuss diversity
2014-01-20


The Institute of Reconciliation and Social Justice is hosting a two-day colloquium on 30–31 January 2014. A broad range of keynotes will discuss the topic: ‘Diversity and the politics of engaged scholarship: A comparative study in higher education’.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, and Prof Dr Halleh Ghorashi from the Netherlands will lead as keynote speakers on the first day.

Prof Dr Ghorashi is a Professor of Diversity and Integration in the Department of Sociology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She is the author of ‘Ways to Survive, Battles to Win: Iranian Women Exiles in the Netherlands and the United States’. She has also published extensively on topics such as identity, diasporic positioning, cultural diversity and emancipation.

During the second day, Dr Charles Alexander from Los Angeles and Prof Shirley Tate from Leeds will lead as keynote speakers.

Dr Alexander is Associate Vice-Provost for Student Diversity at the University of California. He has run several programmes for students who have been underserved by higher education, including students from immigrant families and underrepresented populations. In 2011, Dr Alexander received a Champions of Health Professions Diversity Award from The California Wellness Foundation in recognition of his commitment to increasing California’s health care workforce and its diversity.

Prof Shirley Tate’s work focuses, among others, on theorising ‘race’ performativity and the intersection between 'race' and gender. She has written on mixed ‘race’ identities, affect, beauty, embodiment, pain and women in prison, transracial intimacies, gendered prison identities, racial affective economies in organisations, as well as on domestic work and food.

The sessions led by these keynote speakers are open to the public and the Institution welcomes everyone to join in this topical discussion.

Date: Thursday 30 January 2014 and Friday 31 January 2014
Time: 09:00–11:00
Place: Centenary Hall
RSVP: vannestel@ufs.ac.za 

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