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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 establishes Centre for Education Development
2007-09-26

At its meeting on 14 September 2007 the Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) took a number of key decisions on matters recommended by the Executive Management of the university for its consideration or approval.
 
The Council gave the green light for the merger of the Section Upgrading of Education (School of Education) and Research Institute for Education Planning (RIEP) to create a single unit for education development. The qualifications and courses currently offered by these two units will henceforth be offered by the newly formed unit. The new unit will be known as the Centre for Education Development.
 
Under this new dispensation, amongst others, the functions of the unit will be extended to include other in-service training of teachers and empowering courses and qualifications as well. Some of the existing RIEP courses will be converted into credit-bearing short courses in more learning areas than are presently available, and that the focus will also be on offering short courses as the need may arise. Research will become a prominent function of this new unit.
 
The Council has also approved the reinstatement of the Department of Genetics as a stand-alone department. Currently Genetics is a sub-discipline of Plant Sciences. Its reinstatement as an independent department will have several advantages for the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, as well as the university, namely:
 
- with its own identity, Genetics as a subject will attract more students, through which the UFS will be able to get more subsidies.
- postgraduate students who leave the university for others will have an incentive to stay.
- researchers in Animal Genetics and Behavioural Genetics will be able to fulfil their full role.
- service delivery to the industry will result in the generation of third-stream income.
 
The Council also extended the terms of office of the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Johan Henning, and that of the Director of Finance, Mr Chris Liebenberg, for a further five years each.
 
The Council further appointed Dr Elias Nyefolo Malete as the Campus Principal of the UFS Qwaqwa Campus for a term of three years. Dr Malete has been acting in that position prior to his appointment.
 
Other matters involved the condonation of the Council’s 1995 resolution to sell the Hertzog House in Goddard Street in Bloemfontein, and the approval of the sale of another house in Biddulph Street in Harrismith.
 
Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@mail.ufs.ac.za
26 September 2007

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