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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

TEDxUFS conference - the highlight of the university’s innovative calendar
2015-08-11


Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance with co-organisers of TEDxUFS Bonginkosi Leeuw and Lerothodi Molete after his inspirational talk at the event.
Photo: Curtis Nhlamulo Mashimbye

This year’s TEDxUFS speaker lineup persuaded the audience unanimously to question the nature of reality. The Albert Wessels Auditorium on the Bloemfontein Campus was packed with about 200 attendees on Saturday 1 August 2015.

Speakers shared a multiplicity of profound theories and inquisitions, challenging society in general to think out of the box. Melody Mentz, Gil Oved, Ricardo Peach, Pamela Nomvete, Pepe Marais, Mmusi Maimane, Brian Kally, Pieter Geldenhuys, Philippa Tumubweinee, Gareth Cliff, and Angelo Mockie took on to the stage to tackle multidisciplinary concepts as part of the broad ‘Ask Why’ theme.

Innovation mouthpieces share their worldview

Pieter Geldenhuys, the internationally-renowned futurist and Director of the Institute for Technology Strategy, and Innovation proposed that we change our mindsets by neglecting predictability. “We need to look at different models to understand the world around us,” he said. He challenged the linear and familiar ways humans make sense of the universe.

Speaking to the dire need for transformation, Philippa Tumubweinee suggested that university spaces merge with the communities they serve in terms of policies, social atmosphere, and physical structure. Tumubweinee is a senior Lecturer at the Department of Architecture at our university, and co-Founder and Director of Izuba In Africa architects.

“Only we can give permission to be intimidated; so don’t give in,” said Brian Kally, the CEO of Arrow Logistics (Pty) Ltd. Kally underscored the power of believing in our individual ideas.

Guidelines from TEDxUFS organisers

Bonginkosi Leeuw: “If you take your brainchild and implement it, and make it a reality, that’s when you can achieve great things, not before that.”

Lerothodi Molete: “You should ask questions; the moment you ask the question you will understand more.”

Real-time social media feedback

These are some of the comments audience members published on Twitter at the event:

IG: mispertanzy ?@MiesperTanzy  Aug 1

A huge shout-out to @TEDxUFS for hosting such a great conference!The team has really made the event an unmissable one on the UFS calendar.

Celebrabitur? ?@HatsuMphatsoe  Aug 1

Proximity that allows us to experience our broader society. Truly engaged by Philippa Tumbweinee's talk! @TEDxUFS

TEDxJohannesburg ?@TEDxJoburg  Aug 1

A big shoutout to @TEDxUFS from for a fantastic event. Wish we were there.

RicardoPeach ?@ricardopeach  Aug 1

Africa is rich with potential  #TEDXUFS @MmusiMaimane Yes!

 

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