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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

When entrepreneurship meets industrial innovation
2014-12-13

Johan Eksteen (Photo: Supplied)

Internationally acclaimed Argicon Pelleting is a worldwide supplier of pelleting machinery and equipment as well as agri-processing factories. The company was established in 1993 by André and Johan Eksteen, UFS 2004 MBA graduate. After taking over sole ownership, the company grew from a one-man business to an internationally respected specialist in the design and manufacturing of pelleting solutions for the agricultural industry.

A common practice in industrial procedures, pelleting involves processing material into small dry pellets. This is used globally by manufacturers of animal feed or recycling facilities that specialise in processing materials for reuse. This process, however, can only be successfully accomplished with specialised equipment, namely a pelletizer. With fifteen years’ experience in agriculture, and international exposure in countries such as Uganda, Australia, Singapore and New Caledonia, this was not a tall order for Johan.

Agricon focuses on consistently developing innovative ways to add value to its offering. The business has successfully installed pelleting equipment for a range of products, including tobacco dust, rooibos tea, human sludge waste, organic fertilizers and vermi-compost. In addition to the manufacturing of machines and equipment, the company also provides training and on-site installation for clients, as well as support following a sale or the provision of spare parts. The company also provides advice on new product developments and business opportunities for clients within the sector.

Apart from doubling its sales between 2013 and 2014, the company gained great recognition within the industry. Johan was awarded the University of the Free State Business School’s Entrepreneur award in 2013 and he is the first-prize winner of the ILO Free State EnterPRIZE Job Creation Challenge for 2014. He is currently one of 15 finalists countrywide in the Entrepreneur of the Year competition sponsored by Business Partners and Sanlam. Johan is the mentor and stand-in manager for Almenta, a skills development company (winner of the ILO Best Social Entrepreneur for Skills Development award) and Equus Groom School (winner of the ILO Social Entrepreneur in Youth Development award).

Johan was also announced as the winner of the SA entrepreneur of the year for small businesses.

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