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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 provides an alternative route to a BEng degree
2014-06-04

Mr Louis Lagrange
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

The university is very excited about the establishment of a new study field at Kovsies – a BSc degree with majors in Physics and Engineering subjects. The course is presented in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Project EnSci was established at the UFS at the beginning of 2014. Twelve first-years and four second-years enrolled for the course this year.

“We replace the non-core Physics subjects with Engineering subjects. We also present all specialist Engineering subjects ourselves,” says Louis Lagrange, project manager of Projec EnSci – Engineering Science.

“There isn’t enough space at universities in South Africa to accommodate all students who are interested in engineering. The UFS course can thus be considered a fundamental engineering course. It equips a student in such a way that they will be able to specialise in various disciplines,” he says.

After completion of the three-year BSc degree at the UFS, students may choose to:

• graduate with a BSc degree majoring in Physics and Engineering subjects and enter the professional world.
• study further for an honours, master’s or doctoral degree in Physics.
• apply to register for a second degree – BEng or BScEng (for two additional years) at another university recognising the BSc degree with majors in Physics and Engineering Science. Acceptance is subject to certain requirements.

Matriculants interested in this field, must follow the application procedure of the UFS before 30 September 2014 and achieve the following in the final NSC or equivalent examination:

• an AP score of 34 or more is strongly recommended,
• cumulative AP score of 13 or more in Mathematics and Physical Science,
• completion of NBT tests and
• language of instruction – 4 or more.

These prospective students also need to complete and submit an application form. For more information contact us at engineeringsubjects@ufs.ac.za


 

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