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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

Trevor Manuel and Max du Preez among the recipients of honorary doctorates at UFS graduation
2016-07-02

Description: 4 Hon Docs Tags: 4 Hon Docs

The UFS awarded four honorary doctorates
at its Winter Graduation ceremonies.
The recipients are from left Max du Preez,
Dr Reuel Jethro Khoza, Prof Joel Samoff
and Trevor Manuel at the UFS Chancellor’s
Dinner on 30 June 2016.

Photo: Johan Roux

He is excited about the young minds he saw and interacted with at the graduation ceremony of the University of the Free State (UFS). This is what Max du Preez, one of South Africa’s leading journalists and political analysts, said after receiving an honorary doctorate.

According to Du Preez (Humanities), he was inspired by the Winter Graduation ceremony on 30 June 2016 in the Callie Human Centre on the Bloemfontein Campus. He is happy to finally also call the UFS his alma mater. He grew up in Kroonstad and is a true Free Stater, but previously graduated at the Stellenbosch University.

The UFS awarded four honorary doctorates – the others to Prof Joel Samoff (Humanities), Trevor Manuel and Dr Reuel Jethro Khoza (both Economic and Management Sciences) – and two Chancellor’s medals at the morning ceremony on 30 June 2016. Chancellor’s medals were awarded to Antony Osler and Marguerite van der Merwe (née Osler).

Manuel impressed by amount of soul

At the Chancellor’s Dinner, which was held in the Centenary Complex on the Bloemfontein Campus on 30 June 2016, Du Preez said he feels honoured. He said South Africans must embrace the diversity of the country, and the UFS is a good example. “If the University of the Free State can make it, South Africa can make it.”

Manuel, a former South African Finance Minister, said he is honoured by the amount of soul he experienced from Dr Khotso Mokhele, UFS Chancellor, and Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS. “We cannot tolerate what is wrong (in the country) and need to push the boundaries of what is right,” he said.

UFS stands out regarding understanding


Dr Khoza, a distinguished thinker and businessman, also thanked the UFS at the Chancellor’s Dinner. “We shall strive to be known less for what we say, but rather more for what we do,” he said about the country.
According to Prof Samoff, Professor in Africa Studies at Stanford University (USA), “South Africa has committed itself to building a democratic, non-racist, and non-sexist society”. “Where the University of the Free State stands out, is in its understanding that societal change – ‘transformation’, to use the current terminology – is not an outcome, but a process. A difficult process.”

 

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