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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

Prof Annie van den Oever envisions the future of film and visual media in her inaugural lecture
2014-02-07

The university formally welcomed Prof Annie van den Oever, an internationally-recognised film and media scholar, within its academic ranks. Her association with the UFS forms part of an exciting new postgraduate programme in film and visual media being created by the Faculty of the Humanities.

Prof Annie van den Oever delivered her inaugural lecture, “Foundational Questions for a Film and Visual Media Programme”, sharing her extensive knowledge in the field. The lecture attracted an international audience with people following the talk via live streaming from places such as Oslo, Berlin and London.

“Annie is quite a connected person through the film and visual media world,” Prof Lucius Botes, Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, told the audience in the CR Swart Auditorium. He also referred to the fact that, under the auspices of Prof Van den Oever, two staff members from the faculty completed their master’s degrees at the University Groningen where she also teaches. “I am happy to announce that through Annie’s network we can invest in these young people.”

Prof Suzanne Human, Head of the Department History of Art, applauded the senior leadership for its vision to appoint Prof Van den Oever as extraordinary professor. “We have profoundly benefited and will still benefit from Annie’s obvious enjoyment in sharing her considerable experience and expertise in the design of a programme of film and media studies.”

The new postgraduate programme in film and visual media is being developed in partnership with the departments of Art History and Visual Culture Studies, Drama and Theatre Arts, English and the Department of Afrikaans, Dutch, German and French. The university aims to have the first film students enrol in 2015.

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