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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

Universal Access and Universal Design approach align UFS with international standards
2015-08-11

Making mobility for students with disabilities easier, First Car Rental representatives hand over the brand new Toyota Quantum to Hestie Veitch, Head of CUADS.
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

The Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) launched successfully on 24 July 2015. The objective was “to make more people on campus and from the greater UFS community aware of the services that we provide, and to spread the word about Universal Access.”

“Since the center was founded in 2001, structural and systematic developments have occurred in order to create a welcoming and accessible learning environment that grants students opportunities to be successful in their academic endeavours. Thus, the Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) has evolved into the CUADS in support of the social model of disability,” said Hetsie Veitch, former Head of the Centre.

Implementing the Universal Access and Universal Design approach has aligned the University of the Free State (UFS) with international standards.

Mingling with the experts

Vendors from across the country displayed their products, and offered demonstrations of functional gadgets and essentials at the event.

Marita Erlank from Sensory Solutions demonstrated how to operate the specialised scanner, which converts printed material to enlarged electronic text and audio, using the Open Book software.

Representing the university’s Sign Language Student Association were Carla Bester, Elrie de Toit and Tebogo Chabangu. To support Deaf Awareness Month (September), theyplan to dedicate a weekto facilitating free workshops for students not registered for the module.

David Greenland and his teamwere also present as part of a Wheelchair Appreciation Month campaign. On 1 September2015,the group of students will raise awareness of the daily challenges faced by mobility-impaired persons by spending the day in wheelchairs.

The day ended on a festive note, by courtesy of the First Car Hire Rental Company. A brand-new Toyota Quantum was handed over as a long-term rental, enabling students of the university to travel between campuses free of charge.

CUADS aims to continue transforming the UFS into a universally-accessible environment by collaborating with internal and external stakeholders. The launch marks a significant step towards Universal Access and Design.

 

 

 

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