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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

Vishuis’s fourth Varsity Cup victory about more than rugby
2016-04-15

Description: Vishuis Tags: Vishuis

House Abraham Fischer, a residence from the University of the Free State, is the most successful team in the history of the Varsity Cup. Vishuis beat Patria (Pukke) in the 2016 final of the tournament.
Photo: SASPA
 

For Vishuis, it is about more than just rugby.

This is what Henco Posthumus, captain of House Abraham Fischer’s rugby team, had to say after his team was crowned the national Varsity Cup champions for an incredible fourth time. According to the flyhalf, the title of the leading residence team in the country is “special for the guys”.

Vishuis is the most successful residence team in the history of the tournament. Apart from their four titles, they have played in a total of five Varsity Cup finals.

On 11 April 2016, the residence from the University of the Free State (UFS) launched a great comeback in Stellenbosch to beat Patria (Pukke) by 37-29. This victory ensured that Vishuis was unbeaten in 2016.

Great fighting spirit


The Kovsies started off well against Patria, but were behind 16-29 shortly after break, and had to “delve deep”, according to Posthumus. “To be behind in this way is not what one would prefer. For some reason, we have been in similar situations before, and we know how to make a comeback,” he said.

“We looked one another in the eye and decided that we are not going to lose again in the final.” In last year’s final in Bloemfontein, when Posthumus played at fullback, Vishuis got stuck against Mopanie (Tuks) at the end of the match, and they wanted to prevent this from happening again.

Heymans a hero


According to the Vishuis captain, one of his team’s assistant coaches, Franco (Vaatjie) van der Merwe, spoke harshly to the players when they were behind. The victory was clinched in the dying moments, with the second try of scrumhalf, Ruben Heymans, when the score was 29 points each. Heymans was a star, and the well-deserved Man of the Match.

Posthumus said it is a great privilege to carry the title of Varsity Cup champions. His team has worked hard to reach the top.

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