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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

A struggle without documentation is no struggle – exhibition by internationally acclaimed Dr Peter Magubane
2014-08-06

 
The latest exhibition of one of South Africa’s most internationally acclaimed photographers, Dr Peter Magubane, has arrived on our Bloemfontein Campus. The exhibition features photographs taken by Dr Peter Magubane from 1954 – 1994. From the township streets to the hallways of power, Dr Magubane has spent more than half a century photographing the struggle against apartheid and significant social issues.

The Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery, in association with Absa, are hosting the exhibition called ‘A struggle without documentation is no struggle’ from 13 August to 12 September 2014. The photographs are displayed in the Centenary as well as the Johannes Stegmann Galleries on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Dr Magubane has received numerous accolades for his dedication and outstanding contribution to the world of photography. These include:
• the Mother Jones-Leica Lifetime Achievement Award,
• the Martin Luther King Luthuli Award,
• a Fellowship from the Tom Hopkinson School of Journalism; and
• four Honorary Doctorates from various South African universities.

In the period from June 1969 to 1971, Dr Magubane spent a total of 586 days in solitary confinement and was later banned as a photographer in South Africa for five years. From the 1980s, he worked for Time magazine. In 1990 he was selected as Nelson Mandela’s official photographer to chronicle South Africa’s transition to a new political dispensation.

Today, Dr Magubane mainly focuses his lens on the diverse traditions and cultural practices of South Africans. 

Dr Magubane gave a presentation on 14 August 2014 in the Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery.

For more information, please contact Angela de Jesus at dejesusav@ufs.ac.za  or +27(0)51 401 2706.

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