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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

Council approves Transformation roadmap
2007-06-08

The Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) today (Friday 8 June 2007) approved a comprehensive Transformation Plan in an effort to deepen and accelerate transformation at the UFS.

According to the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Frederick Fourie, transformation projects will be undertaken in key areas of university life, such as:

  • the institutional culture of the UFS;
  • the core academic business of the university ;
  • governance and management of the institution;
  • as well as a specific focus on employment equity.

Prof. Fourie said the UFS now has a very comprehensive transformation roadmap of what must be done, when it must be done and who is responsible for implementation.

“In other words, we have a do-able plan of action”, said Prof. Fourie. He said the plan is based on the belief that the UFS should treasure diversity as a source of strength and quality.

The plan is an outcome of several consultative processes, including the work of a Transformation Plan Task Team that was specifically established to do the initial thinking and liaison with stakeholders to map out critical transformation issues.
He said the overarching objective of the plan is to establish the UFS as an excellent, non-racial, non-sexist, multicultural and multilingual university, where all staff and students can experience a sense of belonging.

Prof. Fourie said one of the top priority projects of the plan has already been achieved, namely the approval by the UFS Council of new policy guidelines to increase diversity in student residences.

The new policy guidelines were approved by the Council today (Friday 8 June 2007) and are grounded in an educational approach that is grounded in the benefits of learning and living in a diverse environment.

Other projects outlined in the Transformation Plan include among others:

  • ongoing diversity sensitisation for staff and students
  • an investigation into the possibility of a diversity module for first year students
  • a project to establish the key elements of and ways of cultivating a sense of belonging among staff and students.

In the academic terrain the plan seeks to heighten the responsiveness of the UFS as a research institution specifically with regard to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations as well as the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA), and the HIV/AIDS pandemic among others. The inclusion of indigenous knowledge systems in curricula as far as is possible will also be investigated.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
8 June 2007
 

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