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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 Council approves proposals from the Naming Committee for the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses
2016-07-20

Description: New Hostels on Qwaqwa Campus Tags: New Hostels on Qwaqwa Campus

New residence on the Qwaqwa Campus
Photo: Charl Devenish

During its meeting at the Bloemfontein Campus on Friday 3 June 2016, the Council of the University of the Free State approved the following proposals from the Naming Committee: 

Bloemfontein Campus

  • The Student Representative Council Building was renamed Steve Biko House.
  • The amphitheatre was renamed Student Kgotla.

Qwaqwa Campus

  • The Administration Building was renamed the Intsika Building.
  • The amphitheatre was renamed the Chief Albert Luthuli Amphitheatre.
  • The Dining Hall was renamed the Kopanong Dining Hall.
  • The new Education Building was named the Sedibeng Education Building.
  • The old Education Building was renamed the Kgorong Education Building.
  • The Humanities Building was renamed the Mendi Building.
  • The two new women’s residences were named the Fulufhelo Residence and Charlotte Maxeke Residence.
  • The two new men’s residences were named the Khayelitsha Residence and Khayalethu Residence.

UFS Council approves name change of buildings and centres on the three campuses (23 February 2016)

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