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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

Anxiety about losing a loved one to death culminates in runner-up prize at Sasol New Signatures Art Competition
2014-09-15

 

Adelheid Camilla von Maltitz
Photo: Supplied

Adelheid Camilla von Maltitz – a lecturer at our Department of Fine Arts – has been awarded the runner-up prize at the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition. Her sculptural piece, ‘Bodies’, explores the process of mourning and loss and the grey areas between life and death.

The Sasol New Signatures Art Competition is recognised as the country’s longest running art competition. The competition has kick-started the careers of some of South Africa's most prominent artists. Last year, the competition was won by another Kovsie, Dot Vermeulen.

“Personally, I experienced an intense and consistent sense of anxiety towards death, specifically an anxiety towards losing a loved one due to a road accident. This led me to wonder how an individual copes with substantial loss. During my practical research it became obvious that there are many contrasts existing in the mourning process, contrasts related to anxiety and peace,” said Von Maltitz.

The piece encourages contemplation on three levels.

At the first level, two boxes lie on the floor covered in heaped earth and ash which suggests a buried body: closed, powerless and dark. Here, Von Maltitz invites the viewer to use this space to contemplate the process of mourning and loss.

The second level offers fragmented apparitions displayed in the light boxes, commenting on the ‘grey area’ between life and death.

At the third and final level, the viewer stands between the light boxes: open, alive and powerful.

Von Maltitz is currently reading for her PhD in Fine Arts at Kovsies. Commenting on her research, Von Maltitz said that she is “also interested in comparing the use of repetitive actions – such as revisiting a grave, which seem present in the mourning process – to the use of repetition in sculptural installation.” She is also interested in the relationship between these repetitions and anxiety and relieving anxiety, either permanently or temporarily.


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