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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

The clash of the campuses
2014-08-08

Kovsies, start flexing your thumbs, bulging your biceps and polishing your suit of armour – a new kind of Intravarsity is about to erupt.

Themed, ‘Made at Kovsies’, this year’s Intravarsity takes place from 8 – 10 August 2014. Kovsie students from Qwaqwa and Bloemfontein will again face each other in events ranging from soccer to volleyball, from table tennis to chess.

This time round, though, Intravarsity is throwing the net of friendly rivalry even further. A Gaming League will give computer gamers a chance to show their skill in cyber space. The Ultimate Frizbee championship will test contestants’ reflexes.

Students with nerves of steel can face each other in the Gladiator event or plunge into the 7-a-side rugby matches. Those with a gentler approach can join the Women’s Day fun run.

During the Kovsie United Music Festival, opponents can become friends at the Rag Farm on the Friday evening. Sêr finals will carry the beat into Saturday night with residences battling it out in song.

 

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