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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 tightens links with Netherlands’ Dronten University
2007-08-10

 

The University of the Free State (UFS) and CAH Dronten Professional Agricultural University, the Netherlands are expanding and strengthening the relationship between the two institutions. The focus of the cooperation will initially be within the Departments of Agricultural Economics and Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences.

Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, visited Dronten recently to investigate the possibility and feasibility of a more formal linkage between the two institutions. That was followed by a visit from Dr Will Beckering to the UFS where a letter of undertaking was signed, paving the way for the establishment of a memorandum of understanding and implementation agreements.

Both the institutions share an interest in the training of emerging farmers; the carrying out of an agricultural skills development project; short-term visits of staff for consultations and lecturing; formulating and implementing projects on capacity development to broaden access to professional education; exchange of students for study programmes, placement projects; curricular development, more especially the possibilities of developing a joint master’s degree programme; and identifying the possibilities of the use of e-learning in joint educational programmes.

Signing a letter of understanding, were, from the left, front: Dr Will Beckering from Dronten and Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk, back: Dr Aldo Stroebel (Head: Internationalisation) and Prof. Izak Groenewald (Director: Centre for Sustainable Agriculture).

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