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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

Winter Graduation spreads a glow of pride
2014-07-03

 

The 2014 Winter Graduation spread a glow of pride across our Bloemfontein Campus.

During the first session on Wednesday 2 July, the School of Open Learning conferred 612 diplomas and certificates.

Hazel Motsoeneng, District Director of Motheo in the Department of Education in the Free State, offered a powerful message to the graduates. “Teaching today is about reaching learners. The world of the future will not be changed because of the money you made, or the car you drove. The world of the future will be changed because you touched a child’s life.”

She reminded the graduates that “teaching is still a labour of love.”

Stafford Masie, the former general manager of Google South Africa, addressed 473 graduands on day two of the graduation ceremony.

“If you want to grow as an individual, realise that there are more people outside your immediate environment than inside that can help make you a better person. Take the opportunity and get exposed,” Masie said.

He added a few bits of advice:
• Be unique, don’t just follow others’ creations.
• The focus is no longer on me, me, me, but on we, we, we.
• You have the opportunity and the skills set. Don't just do things, do great things.
• True innovation happens when people are having fun.
• Work on stuff that really matters.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, conveyed a special message to the graduates. “Getting a higher degree comes with high expectations of who you are and how you conduct yourself. A higher degree at Kovsies means that you are a better person, not only because you received a qualification, but also because of your human capacity to love and embrace.” 




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