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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 Council confirms decision to integrate student residences
2007-09-14

At its quarterly meeting held today (Friday, 14 September 2007) the Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) confirmed the decision taken at its previous meeting that the student residences of the UFS should be racially integrated.

The decision was taken with an overwhelming majority with only one vote against it and will be implemented in January 2008.

The Council tabled and noted the resolution of the Convocation of 11 September 2007 concerning the Council’s initial decision of 8 June 2007 and urged the management to continue to be sensitive, empathetic and inclusive in dealing with the concerns and views of all stakeholders.

The Council also gave all interested parties the assurance that any suggestions that could assist in the successful implementation of its decision would be considered and called once again on all stakeholders to make proposals to the management of the UFS so as to ensure a well-managed process of integration and managing diversity in residences.

In this regard it welcomed the suggestion made by the alumni of the UFS for the introduction of a Diversity Scorecard for residences which would include a multi-dimensional range of indicators and incentives for residences. This could include the diversity profile of a residence, the academic performance of the students in a residence, inter-residence activities and community service projects launched by students.

According to the Rector and Vice-chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Frederick Fourie, the Council hereby also restated the educational motive for the integration of residences, which meant that from an educational point of view, students who had the knowledge and skills to manage diversity would have a distinct advantage in the workplace and in life.

“Today’s decision is a major step forward for the Council and the UFS to achieve a broad consensus around the promotion of diversity at the UFS and in its residences, as the institution has always been committed to giving the best education to students in a diverse and non-racial environment. I would like to call on current students, prospective students, parents, alumni and other stakeholders to make this work in the best interests of the university and its students,” Prof. Fourie said.

He added that the UFS had established several task teams comprising staff and students to implement the Council’s decision of 8 June 2007 and that much work had already been done to identify critical areas and tasks ahead of implementation in January 2008.


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
14 September 2007
 

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