Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)
Determining sources and health impacts of particulate matter in Ulaanbaatar City to aid and assess current air pollution mitigation efforts
PI: Sereeter Lodoysamba, National University of Mongolia
US Partner: Christa Hasenkopf, University of Colorado
Project Dates: May 2012 - October 2013
Dr. Sereeter Lodoysamba (center) with U.S. partner Dr.
Christa Hasenkopf (left) supervising one of the students.
The air quality in the capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, is some of the worst in the world, with particulate matter (PM) levels some 17 to 35 times levels recommended by the World Health Organization. Such high PM levels are due to the natural geography of Ulaanbaatar, which is situated between two mountain ranges, the high concentration of the population that use traditional stoves to heat poorly insulated felt tents, and the subarctic climate that requires indoor heating up to nine months out of the year. Recently, donor organizations such as the United States government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation and the World Bank have taken several air pollution mitigation measures in conjunction with the Mongolian government. These measures include selling more efficient stoves and offering cheap, alternative fuels. Despite these efforts, there is not currently a robust method of monitoring the progress of these actions, in terms of air pollution concentrations or health impacts.
This project will address the situation in two ways. First, the researchers perform continuous measurements over an entire year at one site in Ulaanbaatar that will assess the amount of PM and its source appointment. They will compare the data obtained over the course of the year with a similar study conducted in 2008‐2009 at the same air quality station. With these data, they will evaluate and assess the impact of current air pollution mitigation efforts. Second, they will also determine morbidity and mortality due to air pollution via analysis of hospital records and will compare their findings with similar research reported in a recent World Bank Study. The results from the project will be shared widely with the local community and specifically with various Mongolian agencies involved in air pollution mitigation measures.
Summary of Recent Activities
During the first quarter of 2013, U.S. partner Dr. Christa Hasenkopf continued the sampling of black carbon at two sites (National University of Mongolia and the Sansar area), while doctoral student B. Bulgansaikhan is continuing the sampling of PM2.5
, and black carbon at the selected site in Zuun Ail. About 100 of the collected samples have been subjected to elemental analysis using an XRF analyzer. In addition, Enkhiin Sanaa Hospital continues to collect medical data. Preliminary results, as released through an air pollution Wiki page
created by the project team, show that black carbon emissions in the three reporting sites ranged up to 10,000 nanograms per cubic meter during the last six months of 2012. Particulate matter from 2012 has been measured to be a quarter of what it was in 2008, but the level is still up to eight times the World Health Organization’s 24-hour guidelines. Dr. Lodoysamba and Dr. Hasenkopf have gained additional data from new collaborations with Ulaanbaatar City Air Quality and the National Air Quality Agency (NAQA), having received temperature inversion data, as well as PM10
data and meteorological data from NAQA. These data are complementary to those they have been collecting.
U.S. partner Christa Hasenkopf pointing at one of the
project's PM measuring stations, based at a kindergarten.
Dr. Lodoysamba’s team with visiting NAS staff in
front of the National University of Mongolia.
Over the course of their project, Dr. Lodoysamba and Dr. Hasenkopf have been sharing and discussing their preliminary findings with a standing committee in the Mongolian Parliament, the U.S. ambassador, the National Air Quality Agency, the Zorig Foundation’s Young Leadership Club, the National University of Mongolia, the Health Science University, and Green Bell, a local NGO. In addition, members of the team helped in the creation of a master’s degree program at the National University of Mongolia called Environmental Pollution Control and Management. It is expected that elemental analysis of samples and apportionment of pollution sources will be done in the next six months and that preliminary results of the measurements will be prepared for publication.
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