Foreign donors and the Mongolian government are pumping millions of dollars into cleaning up Ulaanbaatar’s smoggy winter air, which the US Embassy calls one of Mongolia’s most critical environmental concerns. But as yet another relief project draws to a close, the city has little to show but more stubborn gray haze.
In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Mongolia’s capital the world’s second most polluted city, after the Iranian city of Ahwaz, based on airborne levels of particulate matter that settles into the lungs and other vital organs. In winter, particulate matter concentrations can reach levels 50 to 60 times higher than recommended WHO standards.
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Pearly Jacob is a freelance journalist based in Ulaanbaatar.