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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

Odeion String Quartet receives international acclaim
2014-12-22

 

The Odeion String Quartet (OSQ) is a flagship of the UFS and symbolises the university’s commitment to the arts. Most recently, the OSQ walked away with the award for Best Classical Music Performance at the 2014 Kanna ceremony.

It was established in 1991 as a permanent full-time resident string quartet –   at present the only resident string quartet at a South African university – and functions as an independent academic department at the UFS.

The members of the quartet are Samson Diamond (leader and first violin), Sharon de Kock (violin), Jeanne-Louise Moolman (viola) and Anmari van der Westhuizen (cello). They have an extensive national and international background and are highly regarded in music circles as soloists and chamber musicians. The members of the quartet play an important strategic role in the development of symphony orchestra music and in classical music training in the Free State. They are exemplary teachers and attract students from all over the country. The Junior Odeion String Quartet and Odeion Sinfonia provide a unique chamber music training experience to selected students.

They regularly perform to critical acclaim in all the major music centres in South Africa, as well as in SADC countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia. During 2013 they performed at concerts in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, where they received standing ovations and very positive reviews.

The quartet is also set on giving back to musical communities around the country, with workshops offering guidance on playing techniques and life-skills that are essential for young people who intend to pursue a career in the music sector.

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