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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

Kovsie Culture Week delves up diamonds
2014-08-07

The finals of Kovsie Culture Week recently took place at the Centenary Complex on our Bloemfontein Campus. The event was hosted by the Arts and Culture Office and Hlonipa Matshamba: SRC Arts and Culture.

A week filled with fierce competition, close scrutiny and gruelling auditions provided a nerve-racking build-up to the finals. In front of a jam-packed audience, the finalists had to put their best foot forward. The rich variety of acts and talents were divided into categories ranging from dancing, singing groups and Idols to written and recited poetry, photography and visual art.

“The aim of Kovsie Culture Week was to provide a platform for students to display and share their talents and also to give recognition to students, from both on and off campus by means of this competition,” said Matshamba.

The first prize winners, per category, were:

  • Photography: Jansie Malan
  • Written poetry: Wian de Wet
  • Recited poetry: Tebogo Letsoara
  • Dance: Aisha Paswa
  • Singing groups: (LT)2 *squared
  • Idols: Delia Moumakwe
  • Visual art: Francine Kurt

“I joined the competition to share the effect of my special photo that shows the socio-economic indifferences and hardships that other people are facing,” Jansie Malan, a first-year BSc Consumer Science student, said. Delia Moumakwe, a second-year BA Industrial Psychology student, said that “I am grateful for my prize as a token of recognition and being afforded a recording deal sponsored by DJ’s Recording Studio.”

Matshamba added that the Kovsie community is thriving in the arts and we need to support that by providing similar opportunities. She also encouraged students to realise the treasure of their inner talents by making use of the Arts and Culture offices in various departments.

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