Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 589–601 | Cite as

Particulate pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

  • Sarath K. Guttikunda
  • Sereeter Lodoysamba
  • Baldorj Bulgansaikhan
  • Batdorj Dashdondog


The World Health Organization (WHO) listed the air pollution in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) among the top 5 cities with the worst air quality in the world. Air quality in the winter season reaches highs of 750 μg/m3 for daily average fine particulates (PM) due to increased coal combustion and lower mixing heights (<200 m), coupled with the city’s geography surrounded by mountains, which further restricts the vertical and horizontal dispersion of the pollutants. The annual average concentrations in 2010–2011 ranged 136 ± 114 μg/m3 (the WHO guideline for fine PM is 10 μg/m3). The single largest source of particulate pollution in Ulaanbaatar is coal and biomass combustion in households and heat-only boilers, followed by power plants. In this paper, we present sector-specific emissions for 2010 accounting for 62,000 tons of fine PM, 55,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 89,000 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions. The inventory is spatially disaggregated at 0.01° resolution on a GIS platform for use in a chemical transport model (ATMoS). The modeled concentrations for the urban area ranged 153 ± 70 μg/m3, when overlaid on gridded population, resulted in estimated 1,000–1,500 premature deaths per year due to outdoor air pollution. This study also highlights the linkages between indoor and outdoor air pollution. In these harsh temperate conditions, with 50 % of the emissions originating from Ger households, they are as big a health risk for indoor air quality as they are for outdoor air quality. Any intervention improving combustion efficiency or providing clean fuel for these stoves will have a combined benefit for indoor air quality, outdoor air quality, and climate policy. The analysis shows that aggressive pollution control measures are imperative to protect the population in Ulaanbaatar from excess exposure levels, and implementation of control measures like the introduction of heat efficient stoves, clean coal for heating boilers, and urban transport planning will result in significant health benefits, which surpass any costs of institutional, technical, and economic interventions.


SIM-air ATMoS Emissions inventory Dispersion modeling Air quality management Health impacts 



We would like to acknowledge Ms. Oyuntsetseg Dugarsuren for her efforts in organizing meetings in Ulaanbaatar with various departments to facilitate data collection and Mr. Shagjjamba and Ms. Gerelmaa from the Nuclear Research Center of National University of Mongolia for their continuous support in the source apportionment studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarath K. Guttikunda
    • 1
  • Sereeter Lodoysamba
    • 2
  • Baldorj Bulgansaikhan
    • 2
  • Batdorj Dashdondog
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Atmospheric SciencesDesert Research InstituteRenoUSA
  2. 2.National University of MongoliaUlaanbaatarMongolia
  3. 3.Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and EnvironmentUlaanbaatarMongolia

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