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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

Law Faculty to host symposium on corruption in the public sector
2014-06-03

Programme of symposium (pdf)

The Centre of Business Law at the UFS’s Faculty of Law will host a symposium on corruption with specific focus on the public sector.

The theme for this year’s symposium stemmed from the National Planning Commission’s emphasis on strengthening accountability and fighting corruption in South Africa. This was identified as a priority and a critical action area in the National Development Plan of 2011.

The Public Protector of South Africa, Adv Thuli Madonsela, will deliver the keynote address. Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, will deliver the opening address.

Other high-profile speakers to appear at this event are:

• The Honourable Mr Justice FDJ Brand, Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal of the Republic of South Africa;
• The Honourable Mr Justice SPB Hancke, Judge of the Free State High Court;
• Prof JJ Henning, Distinguished Professor and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Law;
• The Honourable Mr Justice A Kruger, Judge of the Free State High Court;
• Dr Johan Burger, Senior Researcher, Crime and Justice Programme, Institute for Security Studies;
• Mr Willie Hofmeyr, Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions, South Africa and Head of Asset Forfeiture Unit; and
• Mr Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Journalist at the Sunday Times investigations unit.

Date: Thursday 5 June 2014
Venue: CR Swart Auditorium, Bloemfontein Campus
Time: 08:30-16:00
RSVP: Dr  Adri du Plessis by duplessisa@ufs.ac.za

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