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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

Prof. Willem Boshoff joins Department of Fine Arts
2012-10-05

Prof. Willem Boshoff

Prof. Willem Boshoff, one of South Africa’s most established artists, has joined the Department of Fine Arts as a mentor for postgraduate students. Prof. Boshoff, whose work has been shown extensively in South Africa and internationally, will serve as mentor and resident artist in the department.

Prof. Boshoff made his mark at the university in 2011 when his Thinking Stone sculpture, one of sixteen artworks commissioned by the Sculpture-on-Campus project, was installed near the Main Building. The "Black Belfast " granite stone, situated next to the H vd Merwe Scholtz Hall, weighs approximately 20 ton and, to date,is the largest of the artworks funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust fund.

Mr Ben Botma, Head of the Department of Fine Arts, says Prof. Boshoff, who is based in Gauteng, will work on the Bloemfontein Campus for certain months of the year. “As an artist he is extremely productive and has an impressive international exhibition programme. As a result he has a good overview of what happens in the most important museums and contemporary galleries. This information and insight can be shared with students with great success.”

Mr Botma says although the mentorship is aimed at postgraduate students, Prof. Boshoff’s presence and obsessive work habits will also motivate and inspire undergraduate students. “Willem is very popular as external examiner and moderator at other universities and he has a good perspective of what happens at the major universities”.
 

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