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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 graduates encouraged to continue their legacy
2016-04-25

Description: Autumn graduation 2016 Tags: Autumn graduation 2016

A total of 3681 qualifications, from seven different faculties, were conferred between 12 to 15 April 2016 at the University of the Free State Autumn Graduations on the Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo: Evert Kleynhans

Photo Gallery
Graduation Video Clip 

“You cannot let your legacy stop here. Use your qualifications to change the life of others.”

This was the call from Dr Muavia Gallie, a guest speaker at one of the Autumn Graduations on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). He is a School-Turnaround strategist and educational activist.

He was the speaker on 12 April 2016 at the Faculty of Education graduation ceremony in the Callie Human Centre. According to Dr Gallie and other speakers at the graduations, graduates need to use their qualifications for the good of South Africa.

A diverse group of graduates

A total of 3681 qualifications were conferred in seven faculties between 12 and 15 April 2016, the week of ceremonies comprising eight sessions. It was four days of festivities with friends and families gathering to celebrate with graduates.

The large number of graduates consisted of a diverse group. According to Dr Khotso Mokhele, Chancellor of the UFS, the group passing with distinctions was also much more diverse than in past years, especially in the number of female students.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, said graduation ceremonies remain the most special days on the UFS calendar.

A total of 22 students from the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support also graduated during the week.

Work for next generation

Sello Hatang, the speaker on 12 April 2016 at the Faculties of Health Sciences, Law, and Theology ceremony, echoed Dr Gallie’s sentiments; “As you leave this university, your work begins for the next generation; to serve the people you care about in any way possible,” said Hatang, the Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Other speakers included Dawie Roodt, the most referenced economist in the media in 2015, at the ceremony of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences on 14 April 2016. The speaker on 15 April 2016 at the ceremony of the Faculty of Humanities was Nikiwe Bikitsha, one of South Africa’s leading journalists and broadcasters.

Achievers

In the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Madri Brink (Baccalaureus Scientiae Agriculture) received a Senate Medal for the best four-year Baccalaureus degree, while Kyla Hayter (Baccalaureus Scientiae Honores) won the Senate Medal for the best Honours student at the UFS. Willem Carel Brink from the Faculty of Humanities received a Senate Medal for the best three-year Baccalaureus Degree.

Deans’ medals awarded by the UFS.

Also see videos of the respective guest speakers:
Dr Muavia Gallie
Sello Hatang
Dawie Roodt
Nikiwe Bikitsha

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