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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 Sasol Library will reopen tomorrow
2007-10-17

The University of the Free State’s (UFS) UFS Sasol Library will reopen again tomorrow (Thursday, 18 October 2007) after a limited fire broke out earlier this morning.

The fire broke out at 05:00 on a work site of a contractor that is carrying out maintenance on the library’s air conditioning system in the machinery room underneath the library.

Employees of the subcontractor were busy replacing the isolation of the air-conditioning when the fire broke out. An employee of the contractor died and one was seriously injured.

The contractor is working on the system at night in order to minimise disruption to library users. The building and books were not damaged.

“The UFS and the contractor exercised strict safety measures before the maintenance project commenced and regular safety training sessions are still presented to employees of the contractor working on the site. The latest training session was done on Monday, 15 October 2007,” said Ms Edma Pelzer, Director of Physical Resources at the UFS.

As a precautionary measure, the library will be closed for the rest of today because of the possible presence of fumes in the building as a result of the fire. A decision was taken to be cautious and to make sure that the air is clean before people are allowed in the library.

The Reitz Dining Hall of the Centenary Complex is available as a temporary study facility for students until 18:00 today. The library will be open again tomorrow (Thursday, 18 October 2007) during normal hours.

Ms Pelzer conveyed her sympathy to the next of kin of the person who died during the fire.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
17 October 2007
 

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