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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

A tale of many cities – new dictionary of place names reveals our heritage
2015-01-28

 

‘The Dictionary of Southern African Place Names’ provides not only the answers, but also gives insight into how our places and our people were shaped. Penned by three academics from the University of the Free State (UFS), it is the fourth edition of this fascinating book.

Prof Peter Raper from the UFS Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment, together with his colleagues Prof Theodorus du Plessis and Dr Lucie Möller, created more than a reference book. They provide the reader with deeper understanding of events, our heroes, beliefs, values, fears and aspirations.

Jonathan Ball Publishers describes the book as “the most comprehensive glossary of Southern African towns, villages, railway stations, mountains, rivers and beaches. The 9 000 short entries incorporate data from sources dating as far back as 1486, encapsulating the linguistic and cultural heritage of all the peoples of the subcontinent, past and present.”

And what would the origin of the name Bloemfontein be?

This dictionary provides the following answer.

“Capital city of the Free State and judicial capital of South Africa. It was established in 1846 by Major HD Warden at a fountain on the farm Bloemfontein, originally owned by a Griqua, Mauritz Pretorius. It has been claimed to have been named after a person with the surname Bloem, or in honour of the Khoikhoi chief Jan Bloem, or after an ox with this name. Probably, however, it was named after flowers growing at the fountain, from Dutch bloem, ‘flower’, fonteijn, ‘spring’. The name is thought to be a translation from a Bushman name of which Mangaung is the Sotho adaptation; ma- is the Sotho plural prefix or class marker; the component ngau is comparable to the Bushman word //au, ‘flower’, and the final ng is cognate with the locative demonstrative ?, ‘that (one) there’. Bloemfontein attained municipal status in 1880.”




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