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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

First university student from Elzabé Zietsman’s Doilie Foundation chooses Kovsies
2015-01-21

Naledi Dweba and Elzabé Zietsman
Photo: Johan Roux

Naledi Dweba, one of the young people mentored by the well-known singer, Elzabé Zietsman, will become a Kovsie this year.

Although the University of the Free State (UFS) wasn’t the only university to offer Dweba a scholarship, he decided on Kovsies without doubt or further consideration and enrolled for his BMus degree with us. His instrument is the clarinet and Dweba reckons the outstanding Danré Strydom – a lecturer at the UFS’s Odeion School of Music – is the reason why he decided on Kovsies.

“She is a remarkable music teacher,” says Dweba.

Dweba, who only started with music lessons at the age of 15, recently performed his Grade 8 exam. Last year he also obtained a music distinction in matric.

Dweba and Zietsman met four years ago and, as a result of her Doilie Foundation, he now has the opportunity to pursue his dreams as a music student. Zietsman started the foundation in 2012 in order to help talented children.

“I have so many talented young people under my care, but Naledi is the first one to attend university,” Zietsman said at the university’s 2015 first-year’s welcoming on the Bloemfontein Campus.

The Doilie Foundation currently provides for several artistic children – from musicians to ballerinas. 

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