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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

UFS facilitates historic meeting between NAFU and FS agriculture
2007-06-14

 

Attending the meeting were, from the left: Mr Louw Steytler (President of Free State Agriculture), Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk (Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS) and Rev Otto Mbongula (President of NAFU in the Free State).
 

UFS facilitates historic meeting between NAFU and FS agriculture

A significant breakthrough in the agricultural sector has taken place today (13 June 2007) following a historical meeting between Free State Agriculture and the National African Farmers Union (NAFU) during which it was decided to work together in future in various areas to achieve collective objectives for the sector.

Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) facilitated the process. The meeting was attended by Rev Otto Mbongula, President of NAFU in the Free State and Mr Louw Steytler, President of Free State Agriculture.

“I am excited about the openness of the discussions between the two parties as it holds great advantages for the agricultural sector in the Free State Province,” says Prof. van Schalkwyk.

The parties proposed co-operation on various terrains and agreed to talk to each other on a regular basis, and to identify differences and similarities to the advantage of the province’s economy. This agreement is closely linked to the intended co-operation between AGRI SA and NAFU SA which was agreed to at a meeting last year in Pretoria.

During the meeting the parties also agreed to involve other role players in the discussions in due course, and communication with the Provincial Government was highlighted as an important point of departure.

“NAFU and Free State Agriculture can set an example at provincial level for the agricultural sector as a whole to ensure sustained participation about the economic future of the sector,” says Prof. van Schalkwyk.

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
13 June 2007

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