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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

Leeds academic presents a seminar on racism in the UK
2014-07-30

 


Dr Shirley Tate during her seminar on colour-blind racism.
Photo: O'Ryan Heideman

A prominent researcher and academic, Dr Shirley Tate, recently delivered an academic paper – soon to be published – on racism at institutions of higher learning in the United Kingdom. The seminar was hosted at the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campus by the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice.

Dr Tate spoke about colour-blind racism – where racism at an interpersonal level, racial differences and ethnic particularities are overlooked. Colour-blind racism continues to negate the fact that skin colour has consequences in societies where it has been claimed that 'race' no longer matters.

Dr Tate, author of two books, is particularly interested in exploring the intersections of 'raced' and gendered bodies, race performativity, critical mixed race and racism in organisations.

Her talk sparked a lot of interest from both students and staff who were extremely keen to find out more about her extensive research and its striking similarities to our South African experience.

Dr Tate is an Associate Professor in Race and Culture and Director of the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.


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