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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

Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) produces 22 graduates
2016-04-26

Description: Lutho Xintolo and mom Tags: Lutho Xintolo and mom

Lutho Xintolo (right) is one of the Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support 2016 graduates. She is currently pursuing her Honours in Psychology.
Photo: Supplied

Once again, the University of the Free State (UFS) hosted a successful series of graduations from 12-15 April 2016 where 3681 students were conferred qualifications at the Bloemfontein Campus. Among those graduating were 22 students who are affiliated with the university’s Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS).

Some of these students included Zingisa Ngwenya, who is currently busy with her second degree; Grant Lombaard, Zanele Morerwa, and Lutho Xintolo, all of whom are pursuing their Honours degrees. Louzanne Coetzee, a visually-impaired international champion athlete, was awarded a Communication: Corporate Marketing Honours degree this autumn. “We have five athletes and a cyclist with disabilities, amongst our students who are of world-class standard,” said Martie Miranda, Head of the Center.

The Center assists students to gain access to study courses, buildings, and lecture venues, learning material such as Braille, audio, enlarged print, and E-text, computer facilities with assistive technology and software and adapted hardware, and a specialised examination and test venue for alternative test and exam procedures,” Miranda added.

Students with disabilities who enrol with CUADS receive support according to their individual needs from registration through to graduation.  “During this process we identify challenges experienced in their administrative, academic, support, student life, and physical environments, and then address these challenges,” Miranda said.

Support provided by the Center includes amanuenses and extra time during tests and exams according to the student’s specific needs, (as determined through evaluation by the Extra Time Panel), together with Student Counselling and Development, academic tutors provided by the New Academic Tutor programme in collaboration with the UFS Centre for Teaching and Learning, and Sign Language interpreters or lip-speakers as well as real-time captioning.

Students with specific learning difficulties, mobility, visual, or hearing impairments, psychological, or other chronic conditions that might have a disabling effect on them, as well as those with temporary impairments, are fully supported by the CUADS. The Center strives to ensure that students achieve their full potential throughout their journey with our university.

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