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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

It's a Black-White Thing
2014-06-03

Seasoned American journalist, Donna Bryson, will launch her book at the Bloemfontein Campus. It's a Black-White Thing offers a story of hope for our country thirsty for good news. 
 
During 2008, Bryson – who was also in SA reporting on our first all-race elections – visited the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. The reason: to investigate the raging furore around the now-infamous Reitz event. Speaking to students, staff and two former rectors, she realised that the campus was indeed a microcosmic reflection of our country at large.
 
Now returning to where it all started, Bryson’s book shows that real change is finally taking place. Her stories tell of inspiring individual transformations under the leadership of Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS.
It's a Black-White Thing offers a story of hope for our country longing for good news.
 
Come join Donna Bryson and Prof Jansen when they will discuss the book during a public event. The launch of her book is hosted by the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, in cooperation with the Department of Communication and Brand Management. The discussion forms part of the university's 20 years of democracy celebration series.
 
It’s a Black-White Thing is Bryson’s first book and was shortlisted for the City Press Tafelberg Nonfiction Award.
 
Date: Thursday 5 June 2014
Time: 10:00 – 11:00
Venue: Flippie Groenewoud Building (FGG), Block B, Room 202, Bloemfontein Campus

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