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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 Department of Architecture Building receives SAIA Award
2014-08-21

 
The South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) conferred a national merit award on renovations and additions to the DHET UFS Department of Architecture Building. The UFS is very proud of this award.

The building, which was completed in 2012, was designed by Typology Architects' director, Henry Pretorius. Pretorius is also the Head of the Department of Architecture at the UFS.

“The merit award by the South African Institute of Architects, which was presented on 1 August 2014 at the International 2014 UIA congress (held for the first time in South Africa), is a great honour. Not only does the award recognise my work as an architect, it also brings back a certain degree of pride to the Free State and especially the UFS’s Department of Architecture,” says Pretorius.

The SAIA Awards Programme runs over two years to coincide with the presidential term of office, starting with the Regional Awards for Architecture during the preceding year.

A total of forty-nine (49) entries for varying buildings were received from the regions. The project range included residential projects, new public buildings, restoration of heritage projects and an academic research project.

From these submissions, fourteen (14) projects received merit awards, of which eight (8) projects received excellence awards.

The adjudication panel comprised:
• Sandile Ngonyama: SAIA President
• Paul Kotze: Architect, planner and academic from WITS
• Malcolm Campbell: Architect from ACG Architects in Cape Town
• Annemarie Meintjies: Deputy editor of VISI magazine, representing a prominent member of the public
• Peter Kidger: representative of Corobrik, sponsor of the awards. 

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