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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

Social cohesion tops the agenda at arts week
2015-08-31


What’s the Difference deur Tanya Britz
Photo: Lelanie de Wet

Launching the annual Arts 4 Social Justice (A4SJ) week, taking place from 12-19 August 2015 at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) the Bloemfontein Campus was alive with artworks placed in various buildings and open spaces.

Angelo Mockie said, “This is an opportunity to share knowledge.” Mockie is the coordinator of the annual Arts 4 Social Justice week which gives artists a platform to convey their experiences, and engage students and the public on social issues of national significance.


Meaningful Places deur Adelheid von Maltitz, bygestaan deur Nicolene Jonker en Xoliswa Msimango
Photo: Michelle Nothling

Coinciding with the week’s events, the IRSJ launched the National Flagship Project in the Visual Arts, funded by the National Arts Council. The theme of the project is ‘Emancipating the African voice in the visual arts for social cohesion purposes’. According to Mockie, “this endeavour is crucial to confronting the histories, policies, and practices that have shaped and constrained the intellectual and social mandates of higher education institutions.”

Adelheid von Maltitz, Klas Thibeletsa, Richard Bollers, and Jaco Spies were some of the artists exhibiting their creative work. A host of students from the university’s Fine Arts Department also presented their works across the campus.

The focus on social justice aims to inspire audiences toward developing engaged citizenship and cohesive communities.

 



What’s the Difference deur Tanya Britz
Photo: Michelle Nothling


History is the Required Process by Motseokae Klas Thibeletsa

 

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