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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

R8,2-million boost for UFS Qwaqwa campus
2004-08-27

The management of the University of the Free State (UFS) has approved an allocation of R6,8-mililon for upgrading of residences and R1,4-million for other upgrading of the UFS Qwaqwa campus.

According to the Head of the Qwaqwa campus, Prof Peter Mbati, the management also decided that a maintenance manager should be appointed, who will be responsible for dealing with routine maintenance on the Qwaqwa campus.

Prof Mbati said these developments were a major step forward for the Qwaqwa campus as it once again showed management’s commitment to the campus which was incorporated into the UFS in January 2003.

“We can systematically begin to tackle the huge backlog of needs – in terms of maintenance and upgrading – that has built up over many years.

“The new maintenance manager – once appointed – will also ensure that we shorten the turn-around time for addressing routine maintenance issues and in this way improve service delivery on this campus.

“This is not just a financial boost for the campus but I view it as a major boost for staff and student morale. With this commitment from management, staff and students should also commit themselves to the future of this campus,” Prof Mbati said.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
27 August 2004

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