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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

Tim Noakes delivers lecture at UFS symposium
2014-08-04

 

Prof Tim Noakes
Photo: Renè-Jean van der Berg

The Metabolic Research Unit at the University of the Free State (UFS) held a symposium on diabetes, with Prof Tim Noakes as one of the guest speakers.

Prof Noakes, a professor in Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town, became known mainly for his research and findings on nutrition and health and is also the person behind the infamous ‘Noakes diet’.

The ‘Noakes diet’ – or the Paleo diet – focuses on avoiding carbohydrates in favour of including high fat and oil content for a healthy diet.

During his lecture, Prof Noakes explained how this diet can actually help control certain stadia of diabetes and shared several success stories with the symposium.

Prof Noakes’ reasoning concerning the ‘traditional’ nutritional requirements known to everybody, is that it has never been studied before to determine its effectiveness.

According to this nutritional plan, often depicted as a food pyramid, carbohydrates should form the biggest part of a healthy diet and foods from the fats and oils group should be restricted.

Prof Noakes explained that the human body converts carbohydrates into glucose (sugar) to be able to digest it. It is this sugar that leads to weight and health problems in people, of which heart disease and diabetes are some of the most common. 
 

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