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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 cancels lease contract with House Abraham Fischer Company
2015-01-23

UFS cancels lease contract with House Abraham Fischer Company

The management of the University of the Free State (UFS) terminated the lease contract with the House Abraham Fischer company (HAF) on the Bloemfontein Campus during December 2014.

The HAF company has been managing the Abraham Fischer men’s residence as independent provider of student accommodation on the campus for a considerable time.

The decision to terminate the lease contract was taken because the company was unable to meet its financial obligations of more than R700 000 in overdue rent to the university for quite some time. Over the past few years, the management of the UFS had several discussions with the board on this matter. HAF’s inability to make payment has obliged the university to intervene in order to ensure that services to residents of the residence would be continued uninterrupted. 

The termination of the lease contract means that the Department of Housing and Residence Affairs at the UFS will be taking over the management and finances of the residence, and will also be handling the placement of students in the residence from now on. The takeover is effective as from 1 January 2015.

The UFS informed senior and first-year students of the change in management on Friday 23 January 2015.

Students’ accommodation in the residence is in no way affected by the change in management.

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