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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

Khayalami residence launches first in-house library
2016-04-21

Description: 2016 KL News Khayalami library  Tags: Khayalami residence launches first in-house library in the country
Bongani Mtotoba (left) and Sinoxolo Gcilitshana (right) at the first-ever 24 hour in-house library at Khayalami residence. The librarian and Deputy Residence Head respectively hope to revive the culture of reading on our Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

“It is said that reading means to the brain what exercise means to the body. For that reason, we want to bring back the culture of reading to our students who are, after all, the future replacement of the leadership of our wounded and broken country,” said Sinoxolo Gcilitshana, Deputy Residence Head, and Prime of Khayalami.

Titles such as A Life Ever Lasting by Miranda Hearn, To Live Free by William Wilberforce, Powers of Darkness Powers of Light by John Cornwell, and Character Counts by Charles Dyer are among the 228 inspirational books on the shelves of Khayalami residence’s library. Tuesday 12 April 2016 was a proud moment for the residence as it launched the first library in the country located within a university residence on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State.

Last year, Dimpho Jasa, a resident at Khayalami, approached Sinoxolo, who then held the Residence Committee (RC): Academics portfolio, with an idea of forming a book club. Sinoxolo had suggested that a library be established in order to make the book club sustainable. That conversation served as a foundation of the 24 hour in-house library.

“We started with five books last year,” said Sinoxolo, “and ever since we sent the message out, the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen has been supporting us together with the Vice-Rector, Prof Nicky Morgan, as well as the Dean of the Faculty of Education, Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo, and the Head of the Department of English, Prof Helene Strauss.”  

Now, more than 170 young men have access to a growing library that is expected to hold 1500 books by September, when Sinoxolo steps down as the Prime. According to Bongani Mtotoba, the RC: Academics and librarian, some residents have made pledges to help expand the collection. “The response has been quite positive from the guys,” he said.

Borrowers are required to submit a book review upon returning the book. This feedback will be compiled by the English Department into a book available to the public.

Khayalami’s pioneering spirit has also seen the residence run a successful writing competition in 2015. It has since been introduced to the rest of the East College, and now will take place annually.  

For more information on how to donate books or enter the writing completion, contact Sinoxolo on 0783332203 or semsinoxolo@hotmail.com.

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