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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

Miss South Africa is a Kovsie
2014-03-31


Rolene Strauss
Images:
www.facebook.com/#!/MsSouthAfrica

“Rolene Strauss is an example of physical beauty, academic excellence and public duty coming together in one person,” said Prof Jansen.

Twenty-one-year-old Rolene Strauss, a third-year medical student at the University of the Free State (UFS), was crowned as Miss South Africa at a gala event at Sun City the weekend. Rolene was also the favourite on Twitter.

In her acceptance speech, Rolene said that she dearly loves South Africa. “This is where I can live, speak, learn and love freely. This is where my dreams come true. I am very proud of our country and shall always have a purpose here. It is such a privilege to represent our wonderful country. Our future is bright and I can’t wait to represent South Africa nationally and internationally,” Rolene said.

“My passion for health will definitely form a big part of my year, together with the initiatives of the sponsors,” she said.

Rolene said that Prof Jonathan Jansen, the Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, is an inspiration to her. “He stands up for what he believes in and enjoys what he is doing. He wants the best for his students and supports them in everything they do,” she said.

“Thanks to the support of the UFS and Prof Jansen, I am able to stop my studies for a year and continue after my Miss South Africa year. I am who I am today because of the people around me – and that definitely includes Kovsies. I see the university as a garden in which I can flower,” she said.

The university community is very proud of Rolene, and it is confirmed by Prof Jansen. “I am extremely proud of Rolene Strauss, for she has proved that physical beauty, academic excellence and public duty can come together in one person, and offer a powerful platform for transforming communities in need that would otherwise remain invisible, were it not for such a wonderful young role model,” he said.

On the year which lies ahead, Rolene said: “It will be a year during which I shall give back, say thank you and be a good example of the potential that especially women and South Africans may have in our country.”

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