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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

Another L’Atelier feather in the university’s cap
2013-07-24

 

Pauline Gutter, winner of this year’s Absa L’Atelier competition
Photo: Supplied
23 July 2013

"Dagbreek: Die Dagbreker" - interview with Pauline Gutter (YouTube)

A former Kovsie won the Absa L’Atelier competition – South Africa’s most prestigious art competition – for the second year in a row.

Pauline Gutter, who completed her BA Fine Arts degree at the UFS in 2003, is the second artist from the Free State to win the competition, which is in its 28th year of existence. In 2012, Elrie Joubert, another former Kovsie student from the Department of Fine Arts, won the competition as well.

As overall winner, Gutter receives a cash prize of R125 000 and six months’ residency in the studio apartment Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France.

Her winning entry, Die huweliksaansoek, is an interactive work consisting of a 1.8 m high association-rich obelisk, an engraved plaque, a small TV monitor and a farm-line handset. A video of a bull standing in a crush while semen is being drawn from it, is displayed. The viewer is invited to listen in voyeuristically. The soundtrack for the text is composed of statements and comments made by participants in the programme “Boer soek `n Vrou”. The question highlighted by the work, is, “does a farmer choose his future wife in the same way he breeds his stud animals?”

Pauline says her association with the farm, principled parents and strong family ties serve as inspiration for her work. To express her artistic voice in a contemporary environment is to be a close observer of society, she says. “It’s to ask questions which confront the viewer in a provocative way.”

Her advice to new artists is “hard work, sustainability and commitment. Keep looking until you find the place where you fit in.”

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