A strategy to address health and environmental impacts of air pollution in Mongolia.

A surprising place to find toxic air pollution

Mongolia is a large mountainous country, sparsely populated by about 3 million people - nothing like the sprawling mega-cities we normally associate with choking smog.

And yet Mongolia is ranked 5th when it comes to the world's worst air pollution.

The effects of changing climate have made traditional grazing of livestock unviable in much of Mongolia, sparking a migration of semi-nomadic communities to the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Over 185,000 households now live in sprawling makeshift suburbs filled with the iconic Ger - a round portable home covered in skins. Heating and cooking is provided by burning coal, and the emissions are responsible for over 80% of the city's pollution.

Devastating consequences...

Research by the World Health Organisation indicates that 10% of deaths in Mongolia are caused by air pollution. During the severe cold of 2014 that rose to 20%. Annually about 120 children and 1500 adults die from pollution related causes. The incidence of lung cancer, cardiopulmonary disease, foetal death and maternal morbidity are tragically high.

Our response...

The project involves a quick and cheap intervention to protect children's health, followed by a longer-term strategy to reduce the pollution.

The first step is to purchase masks for 990 lower-primary students from the Songinokhairkhan district and to educate the children on the health impact of pollution and protective strategies they can implement.

The bigger and longer-term goal of the project is to identify and promote strategies for emission reduction and sustainable energy solutions.

The inspiration...

The project has been initiated and will be managed by Munkhzul (Zula) Chimid-Ochir who is an environmental scientist employed by the Mongolian government, and recently undertaking post-graduate studies at Flinders University. Zula has inspired a team of Mongolian students in Adelaide to assist with the management and administration, and the project will be implemented through government and non-government agencies.

More information...

This project has been successfully completed and is now closed.