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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

FF Plus court case against UFS withdrawn
2007-10-23

The University of the Free State (UFS) is pleased to announce that a Supreme Court application to have the racial integration of its student residences set aside has been withdrawn unconditionally by the Freedom Front Plus (FF+). The political party has offered to pay the assessed costs of the UFS.

The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Frederick Fourie, welcomed this decision by the FF+, saying all energy should now be focused on making a success of this very important nation-building initiative in the student residences. “We have been convinced all the time that we had followed a fair and inclusive consultation process which led to a thorough and well-considered decision by the Council,” he said.

The decision to integrate student residences as from January 2008 was approved by the UFS Council on 8 June 2007. This last decision was confirmed by the Council – which is the highest decision making body at the UFS -  on 14 September 2007 with an overwhelming majority, with only one vote against.

“There is now no legal obstacle to student participation in the work being done to implement Council’s decision. In fact I want to urge all students in our residences to play an active role in implementing Council’s decision,” he said.

According to Prof. Fourie much work has been done in preparation for the intake of first-years into the residences in January 2008.

Since the initial decision of 8 June 2007, the Vice-Rector: Student Affairs, Dr Ezekiel Moraka, has been leading a team of staff members and student representatives who are doing work in various sub-task teams.

“One of the main reasons for working in this way through sub-task teams, is to ensure the widest possible participation of the affected students in the implementation of the Council’s decision,” said Prof. Fourie.

These sub-task teams are working on aspects of residence life in order to make the racial integration of residences as successful as possible. These aspects of residence life include, among others:
 

  • governance structures
  • traditions and character of residences
  • diversity education and training
  • security
  • placement and recruitment

“This list is not exhaustive, but merely to illustrate the kinds of areas being looked into. I would like to encourage all students in residences to make an input into the work of these sub-task teams through the primes, the Student Representative Council (SRC) or through the offices of the Dean or the Deputy Dean of Student Affairs.

“We have already begun to implement an interpreting service at the house meetings of three ladies residences, namely Emily Hobhouse, Roosmaryn and Vergeet-my-nie. From next year this service will be extended to other residences on the Main Campus,” said Prof. Fourie.  

“In the light of withdrawal of the court case, I am appealing to all students in our residences, to join hands with fellow students and with management in creating a campus of respect and appreciation for all languages, cultures and backgrounds,” he said.

“We want our students to assist the UFS in successfully managing the rich diversity on this campus, particularly in its student residences, and in so doing become an example to South Africa of a truly non-racial, multi-cultural and multi-lingual campus, where students are appropriately educated for the workplace,” Prof. Fourie said.


Media release issued by:        
Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison  
Tel:  051 401 2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za

23 October 2007

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