Ulaanbataar, Mongolia

Publications from this study

Health assessments of future PM2.5 exposures from indoor, outdoor, and secondhand tobacco smoke concentrations under alternative policy pathways in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Journal article in PLOS one (2017) Download

Particulate Pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Journal article in Air Quality, Atmosphere, & Health (2013) Download

Urban air pollution analysis for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Publication by the World Bank (2007) [Download Executive Summary]
Full report is available upon request.


This study “Urban Air Pollution Analysis for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia” was conducted in 2005-06 to discuss possible long-term strategies for reducing air pollution and related problems in the city. Given the exponentially changing demographics, industrialization, and motorization, the air pollution problems are escalating in the city and there is an immediate need to address this issue in an integrated manner. These trends have spurred an increase in the demand for energy (primarily met by coal combustion) in several sectors including transport, construction, heating, industrial production, and have resulted in challenges related to the secondary effects of growth such as pollution from transport, waste disposal, and natural resource mining among others.

Ulaanbaatar Air Quality Analysis Ulaanbaatar Air Quality Analysis

What are the main air pollution sources in Ulaanbaatar?

A summary of air pollution sources is presented here as a series of photos taken in May, 2007 as part of this study. The main sources of air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, in no particulate order, include – Gers, Improved stoves, coal and briquettes, household heating systems, industrial boilers, power plants, brick kiln operations, transport – public and private, dust emissions – construction, road resuspension (on paved and unpaved roads), fly ash resuspension, and garbage burning.

An unrestricted increase in air pollution, poses a significant challenge for rapidly growing city like Ulaanbaatar. The Figure below presents the results of an emissions inventory exercise based on the data collected from a number of local administrative bodies and air pollution dispersion modeling (averaging ~200 micro-gm/m3 of PM10). The air pollution in the city of Ulaanbaatar is particularly severe in the Winter months, due to the natural constraints in the layout of the city, surrounded by mountains, and the meteorological conditions with low temperatures and low mixing heights for most part of the year, which limits the dispersion of pollutants and enhancing their ambient concentrations.

For the particulate pollution, a primary indicator of the health impacts of air pollution, the largest emitters are the power plants, domestic stoves (in the Ger areas), and industrial boilers. The transport (with ~82,000 vehicles including the public transport in 2006) is the fastest growing sector and contributing not only to the air pollution problems, but also traffic congestion and management. The annual health impacts based on the modeled average PM10 concentrations are estimated at ~7,000 premature deaths and ~US$ 290 million in incurred costs for the city in 2006.

A scenario analysis of air pollution emissions in Ulaanbaatar for the years 2010 and 2020 indicate that unless the government makes a concerted effort to address the issue at multiple levels, air pollution and its corresponding health impacts in Mongolia will be significant. While there is no single solution to reduce emissions, a combination of measures ranging from public education and awareness to strengthening of monitoring and enforcement, to improving technology is necessary in order to successfully address the increasing levels of air pollution.

What can the city administration do to control air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia?

Long term measures such as large scale district heating, building public transportation infrastructure (paving roads) require action at the institutional level, large capital investments and have a long gestation period. On the other hand short term actions such as installing solar panels, introducing efficient stoves, education and awareness on proper ventilation of kitchens are less capital intensive and while they require mobilization at the level of the user, are relatively easier to implement. Hence a successful strategy to address air pollution should include a combination of short term and long term solutions. This is discussed in detail in the Journal article in Air Quality, Atmosphere, & Health (2013) Download.

Ulaanbaatar Air Quality Analysis

The final report (June, 2007) of the study covered the following (Executive Summarysend email to receive full report)

Update: May, 2011, Shape files for main roads, rail line, point sources, points of interest, and rivers, are available upon request.

Publications on air pollution in Ulaanbaatar

Media reports covering air pollution in Ulaanbaatar