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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

UFS welcomes two new deans in the faculties of Theology and Law
2014-08-04

 

The university council has approved the appointment of two deans: Prof Fanie Snyman, at the Faculty of Theology and Prof Caroline Nicholson, at the Faculty of Law.

Both professors offer the university a wealth of knowledge and experience in research and teaching.

Prof Fanie Snyman

Prof Snyman joined the university in 1984 as a senior lecturer in the Department Old Testament. His career followed a steadfast ascent which led him to attaining the title of professor and head of department the following year. On 1 July 2013, Prof Snyman took on the additional role of acting dean of the faculty.

As dean, he set out a clear vision of academic leadership with four primary focus areas: research, teaching and learning, internationalisation and regional engagement.

He is the author of eight books and contributed to seven internationally- and twelve nationally-published books. He has published nine articles in international journals and about 60 more in accredited journals.

Prof Snyman proposes to bring staff members together to extensively rethink and reposition the faculty in terms of identity, transformation and the way forward. “We live in a complex world, characterised by uncertainty and in constant change. This calls for complex but also innovative solutions,” he says.

Prof Caroline Nicholson

Prof Caroline Nicholson was born in Scotland and came to South Africa as a young child. She obtained her BProc and LLB degrees at the University of the Witwatersrand and completed her articles of clerkship at Chernin’s in Hyde Park Corner, Johannesburg. Prof Nicholson was admitted as both an attorney and notary public of the then Supreme Court of South Africa in 1986.

In 1986 she joined the University of South Africa (UNISA ) as a lecturer and remained there until 1999. During this time she completed an LLM in Banking Law and an LLD in Comparative Conflict of Laws – focusing on international parental child abduction. During the same year she moved to the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria where she worked for the last fifteen years. In 2003 she completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and has an abiding interest in ADR, especially within the Family Law context.

Prof Nicholson has produced numerous articles and research presentations on a variety of legal subjects. Her primary areas of interest are, however, legal education and child law. She is known both nationally and internationally for her research contributions.

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