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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

ACUHO-I SAC chooses Bloemfontein Campus to host its first colloquium
2014-06-17

Mark Seale, Pieter Kloppers and WP Wahl (Assistant Director: Residence Life - UFS)

The Association of College and University Housing Officers - International; Southern Africa Chapter (ACUHO-I SAC) hosted its very first colloquium at our Bloemfontein Campus on 13 June 2014.

The theme revolved around the question: In which ways can practitioners in student housing assist to create an environment that is conducive to student development and success?

Mark Seale (ACUHO-I SAC: President and Director of Residential and Catering Services at the University of Western Cape) and Pieter Kloppers (ACUHO-I SAC: Research and Development and Director: Centre for Student Communities at the Stellenbosch University) were among those who addressed attendees.

Kloppers is also the pioneer of the standing committee idea, gathering experts in different fields of university residences and housing. “When it comes to university residences and housing, there are people specialising in different fields,” says Kloppers. “The idea is therefor to get these specialists together.”

For residence heads at Kovsies this was a wonderful and insightful experience. Residence Head of Kayalami men’s residence, Abel Jordaan, tweeted the following while attending the conference: “Meeting celebs in the field of Housing and Res Life today. Pieter Kloppers is a rock star and Mark Seale is the Neymar* of this field!” 
 
*Neymar is a Brazilian soccer player who was the top goal scorer in the opening match of the 2014 World Cup against Croatia.

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