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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

Qwaqwa Campus Got Talent show rocks
2014-08-07

The Happy Feet trio are from the left: Matshediso Senkhane, Andile Mbuli and Lebo Mokoena.

Our Qwaqwa Campus Health and Wellness Centre truly believes in the all-round wellbeing of all Kovsies – and that laughter is the best medicine.

This was evident when the centre hosted the first ever UFS Qwaqwa Campus Got Talent show. In the various elimination rounds, students and staff had to showcase their various talents.

Competing acts got the crowd jumping with a variety of singing and dancing acts, provided insight and wisdom through poetry and roaring laughter from the comedy.

A panel of judges selected the top 10 acts. These groups will compete for the ultimate crown later in September. One of the acts that had the crowd captivated was the modern dance trio called Happy Feet. This energetic student act amazed the audience with their superbly choreographed moves that left everyone shouting for more.

“The response of the crowd during the show and when the winners were announced proved just how much fun everybody had. We surely are talented on this campus,” said Industrial Psychology student Cebelihle Mtshali, who was one of the judges.

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