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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

Shimlas start Varsity Cup victoriously!
2014-02-04

Kovsies’ Shimlas gave the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) a fierce welcome in their first Varsity Cup match on Monday night at Shimla Park in Bloemfontein.

Shimlas beat Wits 31–15 in the first round of the 2014 Varsity Cup Rugby tournament. The home side took the lead on the scoreboard early on with two converted tries.

Wits, who still played in the Varsity Shield tournament last year, managed to score a try seven minutes before halftime. However, a penalty kick by Shimlas’ fly-half, Gouws Prinsloo, put the Kovsie team in an 18–5 lead at the end of the first half. The second half saw both sides score two more tries, attaining a four-try bonus point on the log for Shimlas.

Proud Shimla captain, Elandre Huggett, was named the Player that Rocks after the match. Shimlas will face NWU Pukke in this coming Monday’s round two fixtures at the Fanie du Toit Stadium in Potchefstroom on 10 February 2014.

Shimla scorers
Tries: Oupa Mohoje, Divandre Strydom, Fanie van der Walt, Tienie Burger
Conversions: Gouws Prinsloo (3)
Penalties: Prinsloo (1)

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