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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

RSG Crossword Tournament helps to celebrate language
2016-07-27

Description: RSG Crossword Tournament  Tags: RSG Crossword Tournament

Dr Annette de Wet (left), Assistant Director
of the Unit for Language Development in
the Centre for Teaching and Learning at
the UFS, Albe Grobbelaar from XWord,
Prof Angelique van Niekerk, Head of the
Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German
and French, and Prof Lucius Botes, Dean of the
Faculty of the Humanities, during the launch
of the RSG Crossword Tournament.
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

Sometimes it is difficult for language departments to be topical and to show their relevance for the people out there. However, with the RSG Crossword Tournament, this became possible and Afrikaans could be celebrated in a positive manner. This is what Prof Angelique van Niekerk, Head of the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French at the University of the Free State (UFS), had to say about this initiative.

Interest during the Vrystaat Arts Festival exceeded all expectations. Altogether, 46 participants from across the country participated on 15 and 16 July 2016. Ilse van Hemert from Pretoria was crowned as the first South African crossword champion.

New dimension to language milieu

Prof Van Niekerk said people are familiar with crossword puzzles from the media, and it was the first time that a tournament like this was presented to the public in South Africa. “This tournament brings something like linguistics and linguistic sensitivity to the fore,” she said. “It is another dimension of the language milieu.” This is exactly why her department would like to see it grow in future.

Wordplay serves as inspiration

The idea for the tournament is based loosely on the film, Wordplay (2006), which is set in New York, and the annual New York Times Crossword Tournament. The South African Tournament was presented in conjunction with the crossword group, XWord, Prof Van Niekerk’s department, and the radio station RSG as brand sponsor.

Crossword puzzles and blockbusters crosswords completed

“This tournament brings something like
linguistics and linguistic sensitivity to
the fore.”


Albe Grobbelaar from XWord said the winners were determined on a points basis. “Competitors had to complete two crossword puzzles and one blockbuster crossword. The difference between the two is that a blockbuster’s clues are within the blocks or grid, but with the crossword, you have white and black blocks with the clues separate on the outside.”

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