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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 acquires Willem Boshoff’s digital archive
2016-07-22

“I do not want to be the only person or artist that is part of this archive, but I want it to expand and involve others too.”

These were the words of Prof Willem Boshoff, the renowned artist and, Associate Professor in the Department of Fine Arts, during the presentation of the Willem Boshoff Archive to the University of the Free State (UFS) Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery during the Vrystaat Arts Festival.

The digital archive may be consulted at the Department of Art History and Image Studies. Large parts of it will also be available on the UFS website at http://scholar.ufs.ac.za.

Conversations surrounding the digital archive

In a discussion led by Dr Francis Halsall from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland, the discussion led to the discovery of various themes, including The idea of research, education and dialogue, doing or making, the organisation of knowledge, language and translation, word and figures or people, and the enthusiastic amateur.

Artwork attracts international attention

Alongside Prof Boshoff and Dr Halsall, many other participants who have been inspired by the artist’s work sat in on the discussion about the archive.

They included Ivan Vladislavic, author of Willem Boshoff (2004), Dr Katja Gentric, whose doctoral dissertation at the University of Bourgogne (2013) is on Boshoff’s work, and Helene Smuts, arts education writer and publisher. Josef van Wyk, a Master’s student working on Prof Boshoff’s archive, and Prof Johann Rossouw, Associate Professor of the Department of Philosophy also formed part of the discussion.

Vladislavic mentioned that Prof Boshoff’s work opens up a different form of conceptualisation. “When I first encountered Willem’s work, I was excited by it from an art historic perspective,” he said.

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