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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

Armentum make their mark on Barefoot Day
2015-08-19


On a cloudy day when it seemed that no one would be willing to take off their shoes, Armentum men’s residence and Put Foot Foundation supporters stepped out in their numbers to provide shoes for less fortunate school children.

With a R10 donation, supporters could dip their feet in paint in order to make their mark on the blank canvas in support of this good cause. The main aim of barefoot day is to tackle the daily plight and indignity of school children.

The Armentum students kicked off the event on the Red Square at the UFS Bloemfontein Campus, where they were partnered by the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice.

On the day, Dr Choice Mokgetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations, and Prof Nicky Morgan, Vice-Rector: Operations, made a contribution of R1000 for all the foot prints made on the canvas.

“The idea was conceived by the residence and RC Culture, Thapelo Makhubalo. Joining hands with the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice made it possible for us to make it an even bigger event. “Since I work at the Institute, and they work with human rights, it was easier to get them on board,” said the Prime of Armentum, Eddie de Wet.

At the end of the event, the blank canvas was filled with footprints supporting the initiative. All proceeds will be used to put shoes on the feet of children.


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