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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

Nominations for Kovsie Alumni Awards now open
2014-07-15

It is time for the Kovsie Alumnus Awards Dinner again. The University of the Free State’s (UFS’s) Alumni office invites the UFS community and the public to nominate alumni for the Kovsie Alumnus awards.

This year’s dinner will be held on Friday 19 September 2014, where alumni and staff will be honoured for their outstanding contributions and achievements during 2013 – either in their personal capacity or in their respective professional fields.

Nominations are awaited in the following categories:

• Kovsie Alumnus of the year
The Kovsie Alumnus of the Year Award honours the outstanding achievements of a Kovsie alumnus on national or international level. The person must still be alive.

• Cum Laude Award
The Cum Laude Award is occasionally bestowed on an alumnus for outstanding service or achievement on regional, national or international level in their field of work.

• Executive Management Award
The Alumni Award for outstanding service to the UFS is occasionally made to any person (not necessarily an alumnus) who delivers/delivered exceptional service to the university.

• Kovsie Alumni Ambassador Award
The Kovsie Ambassador Award is awarded from time to time to any person (not necessarily an alumnus) who continuously delivers/delivered excellent service to the university and who has a passion for the university.

Send nominations to Kathy Verwey of the UFS’s Alumni office at verweyke@ufs.ac.za  on or before Friday 18 July 2014 or phone +27(0)51 401 9343 for more information.

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