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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

Dr Abdon Atangana cements his research globally by solving fractional calculus problem
2014-12-03

 

Dr Abdon Atangana

To publish 29 papers in respected international journals – and all of that in one year – is no mean feat. Postdoctoral researcher Abdon Atangana at the Institute for Groundwater Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS) reached this mark by October 2014, shortly before his 29th birthday.

His latest paper, ‘Modelling the Advancement of the Impurities and the Melted Oxygen concentration within the Scope of Fractional Calculus’, has been accepted for publication by the International Journal of Non-Linear Mechanics.

In previously-published research he solved a problem in the field of fractional calculus by introducing a fractional derivative called ‘Beta-derivative’ and its anti-derivative called ‘Atangana-Beta integral’, thereby cementing his research in this field.

Dr Atangana, originally from Cameroon, received his PhD in Geohydrology at the UFS in 2013. His research interests include:
• the theory of fractional calculus;
• modelling real world problems with fractional order derivatives;
• applications of fractional calculus;
• analytical methods for partial differential equations;
• analytical methods for ordinary differential equations;
• numerical methods for partial and ordinary differential equations; and
• iterative methods and uncertainties modelling.

Dr Atangana says that, “Applied mathematics can be regarded as the bridge between theory and practice. The use of mathematical tools for solving real world problems is as old as creation itself. As written in the book Genesis ‘And God saw the light, that it was good; and divided the light from the darkness’, the word division appears here as the well-known method of separation of variables, this method is usually employed to solve a class of linear partial differential equations”.

“A mathematical model is a depiction of a system using mathematical concepts and language. The procedure of developing a mathematical model is termed mathematical modelling. Mathematical models are used not only in natural sciences, but also in social sciences such as economics, psychology, sociology and political sciences. These models help to explain systems and to study the effects of different components, and to make predictions about behaviours.”

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