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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 Jonathan Jansen’s term extended for a further five years
2014-03-19

During its first meeting of the year, held on Friday 14 March 2014 on the Bloemfontein Campus, the Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) decided to appoint Prof Jonathan Jansen for a further term as Vice-Chancellor and Rector.

Prof Jansen was appointed in this position on 1 July 2009. His term will be extended for a further five years on 1 July 2014.

“Prof Jansen’s vision for the future of the UFS is in line with that of Council. He led the university successfully through a challenging time and his ability to bring people from different backgrounds together has made a huge difference in how the institution is perceived nationally and internationally. We are thankful that his services could be maintained for a further term and look forward to working with him,” said Judge Ian van der Merwe, Chairperson of the Council.

Prof Jansen said that he is honoured and humbled to be granted a second term. “I will work even harder to advance academic excellence and deepen human relations at this great institution," he said.

The term of the Vice-Chairperson of the Council, Mr Edward Kieswetter, was also extended for another three years during the meeting. Mr Kieswetter, Group Chief Executive of Alexander Forbes Equity Holdings (Pty) Ltd, has been a member of the Council since November 2004. This will be his third term as Vice-Chairperson.

Issued by: Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Telephone: +27(0)51 401 2584 or +27 (0) 83 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za
Fax: +27 (0) 51 444 6393

 

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