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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

UFS blows the whistle on crime
2014-03-28


At the event were, from the left: Refiloe Seane, Director: Student Counselling and Development; Anastasia Sehlabo, SRC member for Accessibility and Student Support. Back, from the left: Melissa Barnaschone, Student Counselling and Development; and Mokgawa Kobe, Director: Protection Services.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

First-year students receive 1 000 whistles in project to combat crime.

Numerous safety measures were implemented by the University of the Free State in the past five years to ensure the safety of all the students and staff on all three campuses of the UFS. A large area of the UFS Campus is covered by security cameras. Red poles, equipped with panic buttons that can be activated to call for help, were also erected across the campuses.

At the beginning of 2013, as a further safety measure, whistles were handed out to female students in residences.

At an event on 26 March 2014, Refiloe Seane, Director: Student Counselling and Development, together with her team, handed over 1 000 whistles to the Student Representative Council to be distributed to first-year students. The whistles were sponsored by Prof Nicky Morgan, Vice-Rector: Operations and Mokgawa Kobe, Director: Protection Services.

“Female students are encouraged to use the whistles to call for help when they feel unsafe or are in danger. The objective is, firstly, to discourage criminals without suffering any negative consequences, and secondly, to get the attention of security or any other form of assistance,” said Melissa Barnaschone, Student Counselling and Development.

At the event, Mokgawa said: “The moment you blow this whistle, you say to the potential criminal:

  • I hate what you do
  • I will not keep quiet about it
  • I am doing something against crime.”

 

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