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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

Biggest Bloemfontein art project comes to life
2016-07-11

Description: It’s My City Giraffe Tags: It’s My City Giraffe

Three sculptures in different places
in Bloemfontein will form part of
It’s My City, a large-scale public art
project from 8 to 16 July 2016
alongside the Vrystaat Arts Festival.
Photo: Xany Jansen van Vuuren

One of the biggest art projects Bloemfontein has ever seen. That is how Angela de Jesus, curator of the Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery at the University of the Free State (UFS), describes It’s My City. And the large-scale public art project involves the community of Bloemfontein/Mangaung’s participation.

The artwork, conceived by British artist, Alex Rinsler, will be on display from 8 to 16 July 2016, alongside the Vrystaat Arts Festival. Three sculptures, a Baby Giraffe, Mother Tree and Toy Windmill, each about 7.5 metres, will appear in Hoffman Square, Mapikela Square in Batho location, and on the Red Square of the UFS Bloemfontein Campus respectively.

Many from around the city included


Local lead artists – Marius Jansen van Vuuren (Baby Giraffe), Tshiamo Art and Crafts Development (Mother Tree), and Minè Kleynhans (Toy Windmill) – expressed their relationship to the city. According to De Jesus, the project includes “six artists; more than 20 job opportunities were created; and there were skills transfer for many more. Over 50 volunteers, 100 professionals, and hopefully thousands will take part.” It’s My City is the signature 2016 project of the Programme for Innovation in Artform Development, a partnership between the UFS and the festival, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the municipality of Mangaung.

People can connect in positive way

“What most excites me is that this work will create imagery that loads of people can connect with in a positive way, and write a new story,” says Rinsler. According to the public artist and cultural producer, people are invited to visit the sculptures, write down their wishes for the city and those they love, and add them to complete the artworks.

Sculptures meet each other at ceremony

On 16 July 2016, the sculptures will be led by three processions, convening at the Macufe village (corner of Elizabeth and Markgraaff streets). At 17:30, a short ceremony, free to attend, will follow where they will be dismantled in spectacular fashion, with graceful fire and pyrotechnics, and so bringing together many people’s wishes as one.

Photo Gallery
For more information visit the It's My City website
Click here for a press release about the project



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