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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

Two Kovsies in SA Netball team for World Student Games
2016-04-18

Description: Lauren-Lee Read More Tags: Lauren-Lee Read More

Lauren-Lee Christians became the 12th Protea from the University of the Free State in 2015. She will play for the South African Universities Netball team in America during July.
Photo: SASPA

Two students from the University of the Free State (UFS), Lauren-Lee Christians and Karla Mostert, were selected for the South African Universities Netball team.

The team, with eight Proteas in its ranks, will be in action at the World Student Games in Miami, USA, from 13 to 17 July 2016.

Among the criteria for selection is that participants should not be older than 27 years in 2016, and they should have been students last year.

The South Africans, who came in second during the inaugural tournament in Cape Town four years ago, will be difficult to beat this time. A total of 12 countries will compete for the title of student champions.

Mostert part of previous successful team

Mostert was one of five Kovsies playing for this team in 2012, when South Africa lost 49-53 to Britain in the final. This came after the score was even at the end of regular play.

Mostert was also one of the two best players for the Proteas at the World Cup last year. Christians just missed out, and had to be content with being a non-travelling substitute after she became the 12th Protea of the UFS earlier in 2015.

Four from UFS in Cucsa squad

Meanwhile, four other of their teammates - Rieze Straeuli, Tanya Mostert, Kgomotso Mamburu, and Alicia Puren - were included in a provisional squad of 15 players to compete for the South African student team at the Cucsa Games (Southern African Student Games). This squad will soon be reduced to the 12 players who will represent their country in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, from 1 to 6 August.

No Protea can be selected for this student team. A fifth Kovsie, the goal shooter, Dénielle van der Merwe, was also selected for the initial squad, but had to withdraw due to a serious leg injury.


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