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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

Travel 120 million light years this July holiday
2014-07-07

The first digital planetarium in sub-Saharan Africa – situated on Naval Hill, right here in Bloemfontein – opened on 1 November 2013. The University of the Free State (UFS) is managing this facility.

In view of the July holiday, special family programmes will be hosted on Friday night, 11 July 2014. The programme includes the following shows:

Nanocam
Nanocam (you shrink down to the size of an insect and fly through the eye of a needle) is a microscopic joyride into the five kingdoms of living organisms. The show offers a compelling, educational and funny approach to life that has never been seen like this before.

Fragile Planet
Fragile Planet offers a journey of 120 million light years to rediscover our home. The audience experiences an astronaut’s view of the earth, highlighting earth’s unique regions.

The pre-produced programmes are all in English, but the live presentation and tour through the universe will be alternately in Afrikaans or English.

Tariffs
Adults: R50
Learners, students and pensioners: R30

Buy tickets at
- The planetarium before shows;
- Computicket (at all Checkers, Shoprite, House and Home and Checkers Hyper shops);
Computicket’s enquiry centre (08619158000), or
- Online at www.online.computicket.com (look for ‘planetarium’), for mobile devices go to www.computicket.mobi (look for ‘planetarium’).

For any enquiries, you are welcome to contact Yolandie Loots at FickY@ufs.ac.za or on +27(0)51 401 9751.





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