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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

Prof Magda Fourie is visiting the University of Oxford
2004-08-30

 

Prof Magda Fourie, Vice-Rector: Academic Planning at the University of the Free State (UFS), is currently visiting the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom where she is doing research at the Institute for the Advancement of University Learning.

 

The primary role of the Institute is giving effect to the Teaching and Learning Strategy of Oxford University by supporting the quest for excellence in learning, teaching and research at the university. Prof Fourie will pay particular attention to research that the Institute has done on creating an optimal learning environment for students, with the purpose of enhancing the learning environment of students at the UFS.

Prof Fourie was awarded a University of Oxford Fellowship by the Association of Commonwealth Universities to spend two months at Oxford University for professional development purposes.

She will also visit the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, the Office for Distance and Online Learning and the Planning and Resource Division.

Prof Fourie’s visit abroad will be concluded with a visit to Dundee in Scotland, where she will attend a conference for vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors on managing change in higher education. She will return to South Africa by the middle of next month.

 

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