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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

New Engineering Graphics Education classrooms
2014-02-19

 From the left are: Nixon Teis, lecturer; Johan Coetzee, discipline coordinator; Prof Okkie Combrinck, lecturer; Annamarie Otto, lecturer; Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo, Head: School MNST; Albert Kemp, lecturer and Izak Scott, student assistant.

New Engineering Graphics Education classrooms enrich, empower and enhance education

This year, Technology Education at the university will embark on a new endeavour. The development of new Engineering Graphics Education classrooms and a Technology laboratory will help shape excellence in the work of future educational technology students. These classrooms will be equipped with the latest educational and technological equipment to meet the needs of current and future students.

The new expansion will form part of the current Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology (MNST) Education Building, situated across the road from the Winkie Direko Education Building. Technology education embarks on a journey to enrich, empower and enhance education students. It aims to ensure that students will not only evolve in their teaching profession, but also establish a level of excellence that will drive their generation to become Technology educational leaders in their community. The educational laboratories are set for completion during middle September 2014.

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