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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

Statement: Visit of the Portfolio Committee on Education to the UFS
2005-02-25

The chair of the Portfolio Committee on Education (PCE) Prof Shepherd Mayatula has commended the management of the University of the Free State (UFS) for its positive approach to the incorporation of the Vista and Qwaqwa campuses.

According to a statement issued by the university’s communication section, Prof Mayatula said that while there were outstanding issues to address, a platform had been created through the visit of the portfolio committee for the UFS to find solutions.

Speaking at the end of a visit to the Bloemfontein campus of the UFS, Prof Mayatula said: “You know the issues that exist between the three campuses and you know the solutions. You don’t need recommendations from the Committee.”

Earlier today the PCE held a three-way meeting between the PCE, the management of the UFS and the Vista Task Team, representing staff and students at the Bloemfontein campus of the former Vista University .
 

The Bloemfontein campus of the former Vista University was incorporated into the UFS in January 2004.

The multi-party delegation from the PCE was led by its chairperson, Prof S Mayatula, while the delegation from the UFS was led by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie, while the Vista Task Team was lead by Mr Paseka Mokoena.

Following a presentation by the Vista Task Team and a presentation by the UFS management, other committee members also commended the UFS for the spirit in which outstanding issues were being handled.

It was indicated by portfolio committee members that other universities have far more serious problems than the UFS, and that some of these universities have also been visited by the PCE. The UFS appears to be on the road to be an important pilot case for incorporations and mergers.

The issues that were discussed during today’s meeting included the following:

  • outstanding issues in the process of incorporating the Bloemfontein campus of the former Vista University into the UFS, including:
  • staff issues and conditions of service
  • issues of student aid and pipeline students
  • governance of the UFS
  • the long term utilisation of Vista as a site

The Rector and Vice-chancellor of the UFS, Prof Fourie, expressed his appreciation for the role played by the Portfolio Committee on Education in bringing about a common understanding of the transformation issues facing the UFS.

Prof Fourie said the Portfolio Committee’s visit was a useful intervention to bring about a sense of urgency in resolving matters affecting the Vista campus as well as the Qwaqwa campus.

Issued by: Mr Anton Fisher
Director: Strategic Communication
Cell: 072-207-8334
Tel: 051-401-2749
25 February 2005

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