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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

Largest group on African continent introduced to Sign Language
2016-07-05

Description: z UFS101 SASL Tags: z UFS101 SASL

The introduction of basic Sign Language
as part of the UFS101 course was a great
success. From left are Susan Lombaard,
Annemarie le Roux, Tshisikhawe Dzivhani
(all from the Department of South African
Sign Language), and Lauren Oosthuizen
(UFS101).

Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

As a result of a new initiative at the University of the Free State (UFS), the largest group of students on the African continent took part in a first-year seminar which included Sign Language.

A total of 5400 students on the Bloemfontein Campus and 1000 on Qwaqwa Campus were taught basic Sign Language by Susan Lombaard, Acting Head of the Department of South African Sign Language, and her team members, Tshisikhawe Dzivhani, Annemarie le Roux, and Nicolene de Klerk.

It forms part of the UFS101 module presented to all first-year students. The initiative, begun in the first semester of 2016, will form part of UFS101 in future and was met with an overwhelmingly positive response.

Three segments of course

Sign Language was taught in three segments and positioned as large-class learning experiences in the Callie Human Centre (Bloemfontein Campus) and the Nelson Mandela Hall (Qwaqwa Campus). Students were taught about deaf culture, Sign Language theory, as well as how to sign their names, exchange pleasantries, and have a basic conversation.

A valuable skill to have

“It (the Sign Language experience) was very interesting and helpful,” said one of the students. “It is important to have the ability to communicate with all sorts of people, and to be able to help them in a crisis”. According to another, it sparked an interest in Sign Language. “It is a skill I will continue to use and try to learn more from it,” said a third.

Lombaard – in collaboration with the UFS101 team – will be presenting a paper related to this achievement at the DeafNet Africa Conference in Johannesburg, from 26 to 30 September 2016.

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