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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

Women’s Day Lecture by Zanele Muholi
2014-08-04

 
The Gender Studies programme at the Centre for Africa Studies presents the 2014 Women’s Day Lecture with guest speaker Zanele Muholi.

Muholi, a photographer and visual activist, will show new photographs as well as a new video produced in Durban as part of a presentation exploring Born Frees (the generation born post-apartheid South Africa known as Mandela’s great-grandchildren), and how each person expresses themselves queerly at the time of troubling hate crimes in South Africa. The young adults she depicts are those born in 1990–1994, and openly gay/lesbian/trans within South African borders.

Date: Friday 8 August 2014
Time: 12:00 – 14:00
Venue: CR Swart Auditorium, Bloemfontein Campus 

Zanele was born in Umlazi, Durban, and currently lives in Johannesburg. She is known for her work on black lesbians and corrective rape in South Africa. Her work emphasises the importance of queering the normative gaze by representing black lesbians in ‘straight’ portraits in a collection of work titled Faces and Phases. Muholi’s work focuses on queer politics, gender politics and politics of race.

In the 2013 Human Rights Watch documentary titled We Live in Fear, Muholi speaks about the way in which ‘corrective rapes’ have become a binding factor for the LGBT community in South African townships and the importance of documenting lesbians who have become victims of these hate crimes. In 2009 Muholi founded the non-profit organisation Inkanyiso which focuses on visual arts and media advocacy for and by the LGBT community. Muholi is an Honorary Professor of the University of Arts/Hochschule für Künste Bremen.

To attend the lecture, please contact Nadine Lake at LakeNC@ufs.ac.za or +27(0)51 401 3813.

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