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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

Kovsies welcomes first-years into the fold
2015-01-20

Three first-year students from the Kestell residence that attended the first-year welcoming.
Photos: Johan Roux


 

Few life experiences are as exciting as becoming part of a university. On Friday 16 January 2015, Kovsies embraced our first-year students into our family after great anticipation.

That evening, first-years and their parents streamed to the Red Square on our Bloemfontein Campus where they were formally welcomed. This event also served to kick off the 2015 Gateway Programme – an orientation programme for all our first-years.

Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations, addressed the first-years and congratulated them on their excellent matric results.

“The fact that you are here is a testimony to the level you are able to work at,” Dr Makhetha said.“You will have fun and make friends at the UFS. Your friends will be from different backgrounds and speak different languages than you. Embrace it all. You are now a part of the UFS family.

President of the Student Representative Council (SRC), Mosa Leteane, also reassured first-years that they are where they belong – at a university that inspires excellence.“This is the only space where the university’s international relations give opportunity to first-years to travel abroad with our F1 Leadership for Change Programme,” Leteane said. “It is the only space where the rector openly talks to his students, without having an appointment. It is the only space in our country where no student goes hungry due to our No Student Hungry (NSH) Programme.”

The following evening provided a spectacular live show with well-known artists Karen Zoid and Vusi Mahlasela entertaining the crowd. They performed alongside the Free State Symphony Orchestra (FSSO) that added even more dazzle to this Gateway/NSH first-years concert.

On Saturday 17 January, the new-comers had an opportunity to visit their respective faculties and get to know the staff and facilities a bit better.

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