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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 holds memorial service for Prof Benito Khotseng
2015-01-09

Prof Benito Khotseng

The management of the University of the Free State is saddened by the passing away of Prof Benito Khotseng, former Vice-Rector: Student Affairs at the UFS.

Prof Khotseng died from a heart disease on Sunday 4 January 2015 at the age of 67.
He joined the University of the Free State as a senior manager more than two decades ago.

According to family and colleagues, his death has left a void in the education fraternity.

Prof Kalie Strydom, who has been a colleague of Prof Khotseng for more than 20 years, described him as a principled leader who did not promote and argue educational issues in his own interest.

“His focus was never on benefitting opportunistically in the short term, whether professionally or financially. I had the privilege of participating with Benito in many meetings and fundraising efforts where the correct values/principles and the organisations/institutions for which he worked benefitted, but other than so often happens in life, Benito did not benefit personally. We celebrate him forever, though with tears in our eyes.”

A memorial service for Prof Khotseng will be held at the UFS’s Bloemfontein Campus:

Monday 12 January 2015
10:00
Albert Wessels Auditorium, Bloemfontein Campus, UFS

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