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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

Meet our Council: Loraine Roux – a proud Kovsie ambassador
2016-07-01

“I strive to represent the alumni
actively as an interest group,
and to help build the university
through sound business principles.”

Loraine Roux (née Kriek), former President of the Student Representative Council, was elected to the Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) in 2012. This former Kovsie made her mark at the UFS. Many staff members and former students will remember her as the beautiful brainbox, who achieved success in so many different areas of student life and humanity.

Loraine’s studies


Her journey as a Kovsie started as finalist in the prestigious Matriculant of the Year competition. Later, she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Consumer Science at the UFS. Loraine, a born leader, was also Prime of Soetdoring residence, and remains the only student in the history of the university to be chosen as SRC President, Rag Queen, and Dux student in the same year.

After university

The Kriek family are all stalwart former Kovsies, with three generations – Loraine, her late grandfather Johan Kriek, and godparents, Rhyno and Mariette Kriek – having served on the Student Representative Council. So, it is no surprise that a leading firm like Deloitte & Touche noticed Loraine’s unique talent and leadership skills, and snatched her up for their CEO Bootcamp immediately after university.

Serving on the UFS Council


Currently, she is part of the team that is extending Deloitte & Touche’s ethical and fraud prevention services across Africa and Europe. She also uses her expertise and experience in risk management, ethical practice, and good corporate governance for her role as UFS councillor. As part of her duties as Alumni representative in the Council, she serves on the Naming Committee, as well as on the Audit and Risk Committee.

“It is a great privilege for me to serve on the Council, but it is also a great responsibility,” she says. “I strive to represent the alumni actively as an interest group, and to help build the university through sound business principles.”

Loraine married Gabriel Roux in 2014, and the couple live in Stellenbosch.

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