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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

UFS prides itself on Pauline Gutter
2014-12-04

Pauline Gutter

Her work can be described as a visual attack of marks and colour, and the purposeful application of layering and interweaving of layers that gives the identity of continuous flux and ideological migration.  Her work highlights the ‘removal’ of the farming community from their land. A review of a recent exhibition described her themes as: “A struggle for survival prevails in the dangerous world that is projected to us in the paintings …”

Gutter is not just a top professional artist, but also a well-known brand. True to her roots, her work often mirrors a passion for the farming community. In 2013, she won the ABSA L’Atelier prize of R125 000, as well as a half year’s stay in the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France. 

This art competition is South Africa’s most prestigious art competition and is held annually for artists between ages 21 and 35. This award not only ensures South Africa’s emerging artists of recognition, but also affords them the opportunity to develop their talents abroad.

The UFS is very proud of breeding this class of artist. According to Gutter, her lecturers allowed them space to work on their own identities. Her work has now moved far from simply being portraits and sculptures, it also makes an impact on those who see it.

As a student, Gutter was involved in many community projects at her residence. In 2003 she was one of the two managers of the Dithwele waste sculpture park competition, an initiative of SAB. She is a diverse artist who has worked on KYKNET productions as co-worker and assistant. Gutter also does freelance camera work.

Furthermore, Gutter was on the Mail & Guardian’s list of top 200 young South Africans, an annual list that has become the premier collection of the leaders of tomorrow – and in many cases, today. She also received the Helgaard Steyn prize and was a finalist in the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition.

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