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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 conductor of OSM Camerata is one of South Africa’s most successful young people
2014-03-27

 
Mr Xavier Cloete

The OSM Camerata at the University of the Free State boasts with a young renowned conductor to lead them in the next season.

Mr Xavier Cloete, winner of the 2013 National Len van Zyl Conductor’s Competition, will conduct the Camerata during the Odeion School of Music’s opening concert.

He completed his BMus degree at the University of Stellenbosch in 2011 with bassoon and orchestral conducting as main instruments and is currently employed by the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO).

As winner of the Len van Zyl Competition, he completed a conducting internship with the famous Philadelphia Orchestra, which gave him the opportunity to work with acclaimed conductors. He also studied at the Bienen School of Music (Northwestern University) in the Advanced Graduate Conducting Class of Prof Victor Yampolski.

Last year Xavier was also invited to attend the first Sasha Mäkilä International Master Classes in Finland.

His love and passion for music started early in his life – and somewhat coincidentally - in church.

“I was learning to play a few hymns on my dad’s Hammond organ at home. One Sunday our church organist didn’t turn up and I nonchalantly moved in behind the organ. It went very well.”

Xavier ascribes his success to lots of hard work and his love for music.
“My passion for music drives me to work hard. Hard work shows that you are dedicated and this is again seen in the successes you achieve. The reward of one’s hard work is the best instrument.”

He will be making his international debut with the St Michel’s City Orchestra (Finland) during April 2014.


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