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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

Two from UFS heading for Rio
2016-07-18

Description: Rynhardt_Rio Tags: Rynhardt_Rio

The 800 m athlete from the University of the
Free State, Rynhardt van Rensburg, will soon
take part in his first Olympic Games in
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Photo: Varsity Sports / Wessel Oosthuizen

It is the cherry on top for any sportsman or sportswoman. This is what DB Prinsloo, Director of KovsieSport, has to say about two athletes from the University of the Free State (UFS) being included in the South African team for the Olympic Games.

He says the officials and coaches at KovsieSport are extremely proud of Rynhardt van Rensburg (800 m) and Wayde van Niekerk (400 m). Although they qualified earlier, their names were read out on 14 July 2016 as part of the team of 137 athletes that will participate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 5 to 21 August.

In the footsteps of other UFS stars

They follow in the footsteps of former Kovsies like Leslé-Ann George (women’s hockey), Kate Roberts (triathlon), Johan Cronjé (1 500 m), and Frantz Kruger (discus), who represented South Africa at previous Olympics. Apart from these two, four former Kovsies were also included in the team for Rio. They are the Sevens Springbok Philip Snyman, Sevens coach Neil Powell, Chris Dednam as badminton coach and Roberts as team manager of the triathletes. Dednam also competed as a player at the Olympics. Ans Botha, the UFS sprint coach, will also accompany Van Niekerk.

“It is a highlight for any sportsman or sportswoman to be part of the Olympic Games. It is, for example, the same as it is for others to participate in a World Cup,” says Prinsloo.

Description: Wayde2_Rio Tags: Wayde2_Rio

Wayde van Niekerk

Van Niekerk shows mettle on birthday

Prinsloo is very happy for Van Rensburg, since the 24-year-old athlete has been injured for a long time and had to regain his form. On 24 June 2016, he won a bronze medal at the African Championships in Durban in a time of 1:46.15.

Prinsloo feels that Van Niekerk and Caster Semenya (800 m) are great contenders for medals in Rio. Van Niekerk, who celebrated his 24th birthday on 15 July 2016, continued his good preparation for the Olympics by trouncing his rivals on his birthday at a Diamond League event in Monaco in a time of in 44.12.

 

“It is a highlight for any sportsman or
sportswoman to be part of the Olympic Games.”










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