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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 UFS academics elected on the board of PanSALB
2008-04-30

 

Two academics from the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof. Annelie Lotriet and Dr Elias Malete, have recently been elected to serve on the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) for a period of five years. Prof. Lotriet is from the Department of Afro-asiatic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice and ATKV chair holder in interpreting in the department. Dr Malete is an expert in African languages and head of the UFS’s Qwaqwa Campus. He is also the chairperson of the Sesotho National Language Body, one of PanSALB's sub-structures. The board comprises of 12 members and its purpose is to promote multilinguism in South Africa. Both Prof. Lotriet and Dr Malete aim to contribute towards clarifying the board’s role in the South African language community and make it more visible as the custodian and protector of linguistic rights of individuals and communities.
Photo: Lacea Loader

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