An assessment of air pollution and its attributable mortality in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6 Canada.
Air Quality Atmosphere & Health (Impact Factor: 1.8). 03/2013; 6(1):137-150. DOI: 10.1007/s11869-011-0154-3
Source: PubMed


Epidemiologic studies have consistently reported associations between outdoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution and adverse health effects. Although Asia bears the majority of the public health burden from air pollution, few epidemiologic studies have been conducted outside of North America and Europe due in part to challenges in population exposure assessment. We assessed the feasibility of two current exposure assessment techniques, land use regression (LUR) modeling and mobile monitoring, and estimated the mortality attributable to air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. We developed LUR models for predicting wintertime spatial patterns of NO2 and SO2 based on 2-week passive Ogawa measurements at 37 locations and freely available geographic predictors. The models explained 74% and 78% of the variance in NO2 and SO2, respectively. Land cover characteristics derived from satellite images were useful predictors of both pollutants. Mobile PM2.5 monitoring with an integrating nephelometer also showed promise, capturing substantial spatial variation in PM2.5 concentrations. The spatial patterns in SO2 and PM, seasonal and diurnal patterns in PM2.5, and high wintertime PM2.5/PM10 ratios were consistent with a major impact from coal and wood combustion in the city's low-income traditional housing (ger) areas. The annual average concentration of PM2.5 measured at a centrally located government monitoring site was 75 μg/m3 or more than seven times the World Health Organization's PM2.5 air quality guideline, driven by a wintertime average concentration of 148 μg/m3. PM2.5 concentrations measured in a traditional housing area were higher, with a wintertime mean PM2.5 concentration of 250 μg/m3. We conservatively estimated that 29% (95% CI, 12-43%) of cardiopulmonary deaths and 40% (95% CI, 17-56%) of lung cancer deaths in the city are attributable to outdoor air pollution. These deaths correspond to nearly 10% of the city's total mortality, with estimates ranging to more than 13% of mortality under less conservative model assumptions. LUR models and mobile monitoring can be successfully implemented in developing country cities, thus cost-effectively improving exposure assessment for epidemiology and risk assessment. Air pollution represents a major threat to public health in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and reducing home heating emissions in traditional housing areas should be the primary focus of air pollution control efforts.

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    • "). The absence of variables characterizing detailed pollution sources often leads to a smaller proportion of variability explained by LUR models, which was concluded by Allen et al. (2013) and Saraswat et al. (2013). Moreover, recently published spatiotemporal LUR models (Patton et al. 2014; Smargiassi et al. 2012) usually incorporated meteorological conditions, especially wind speed and direction, as these factors play a crucial role in the spatiotemporal pattern of air pollutants (Gupta and Christopher 2009; McKendry 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is the major air pollutant in Beijing, posing serious threats to human health. Land use regression (LUR) has been widely used in predicting spatiotemporal variation of ambient air-pollutant concentrations, though restricted to the European and North American context. We aimed to estimate spatiotemporal variations of PM2.5 by building separate LUR models in Beijing. Hourly routine PM2.5 measurements were collected at 35 sites from 4th March 2013 to 5th March 2014. Seventy-seven predictor variables were generated in GIS, including street network, land cover, population density, catering services distribution, bus stop density, intersection density, and others. Eight LUR models were developed on annual, seasonal, peak/non-peak, and incremental concentration subsets. The annual mean concentration across all sites is 90.7 μg/m3 (SD = 13.7). PM2.5 shows more temporal variation than spatial variation, indicating the necessity of building different models to capture spatiotemporal trends. The adjusted R 2 of these models range between 0.43 and 0.65. Most LUR models are driven by significant predictors including major road length, vegetation, and water land use. Annual outdoor exposure in Beijing is as high as 96.5 μg/m3. This is among the first LUR studies implemented in a seriously air-polluted Chinese context, which generally produce acceptable results and reliable spatial air-pollution maps. Apart from the models for winter and incremental concentration, LUR models are driven by similar variables, suggesting that the spatial variations of PM2.5 remain steady for most of the time. Temporal variations are explained by the intercepts, and spatial variations in the measurements determine the strength of variable coefficients in our models.
    Environmental Science and Pollution Research 12/2014; 22(9). DOI:10.1007/s11356-014-3893-5 · 2.83 Impact Factor
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    • "The LUR approach was first developed in Europe (Briggs et al., 1997) and was first widely applied in both Europe and North America (Hoek et al., 2008). More recently, LUR has been extended to cities in Asia (Allen et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2010a,b; Kashima et al., 2009; Saraswat et al., 2013), South America (Habermann and Gouveia, 2012; Sangrador et al., 2008), and Africa (Dionisio et al., 2010). Here we describe the application of LUR in a large Middle Eastern city. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Middle Eastern city of Tehran, Iran has poor air quality compared with cities of similar size in Europe and North America. Spatial annual and seasonal patterns of SO2 and PM10 concentrations were estimated using land use regression (LUR) methods applied to data from 21 air quality monitoring stations. A systematic algorithm for LUR model building was developed to select variables based on (1) consistency with a priori assumptions about the assumed directions of the effects, (2) a p-value of <0.1 for each predictor, (3) improvements to the leave-one-out cross-validation (LOOCV) R(2), (4) a multicollinearity index called the variance inflation factor, and (5) a grouped (leave-25%-out) cross-validation (GCV) for final model. In addition, several new predictive variables and variable types were explored. The annual mean concentrations of SO2 and PM10 across the stations were 38ppb and 100.8μg/m(3), respectively. The R(2) values ranged from 0.69 to 0.84 for SO2 models and from 0.62 to 0.67 for PM10 models. The LOOCV and GCV R(2) values ranged, respectively, from 0.40 to 0.56 and 0.40 to 0.50 for the SO2 models; they were 0.48 to 0.57 and 0.50 to 0.55, respectively, for the PM10 models. There were clear differences between the SO2 and PM10 models, but the warmer and cooler season models were consistent with the annual models for both pollutants. Although there was limited similarity between the SO2 and PM10 predictive variables, measures of street density and proximity to airport or air cargo facilities were consistent across both pollutants. In 2010, the entire population of Tehran lived in areas where the World Health Organization guidelines for 24-hour mean SO2 (7ppb) and annual average PM10 (20μg/m(3)) were exceeded.
    Science of The Total Environment 05/2014; 488-489C(1):343-353. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.04.106 · 4.10 Impact Factor
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    • "Ulaanbaatar (UB), Mongolia is one of the most air polluted capital cities in the world, with ambient sulfide dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM)10 and PM2.5 levels >23 times World Health Organization (WHO) standards in winter [25]. Despite its extraordinarily high air pollution concentrations, UB has received very little research attention, where 623 deaths attributable to air pollution representing 4.0% of the annual deaths for the entire country [26]. Yet its air quality becomes relatively clean in summer. "
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    ABSTRACT: Air pollution is a major health challenge worldwide and has previously been strongly associated with adverse reproductive health. This study aimed to examine the association between spontaneous abortion and seasonal variation of air pollutants in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Monthly average O3, SO2, NO2, CO, PM10 and PM2.5 levels were measured at Mongolian Government Air Quality Monitoring stations. The medical records of 1219 women admitted to the hospital due to spontaneous abortion between 2009-2011 were examined retrospectively. Fetal deaths per calendar month from January-December, 2011 were counted and correlated with mean monthly levels of various air pollutants by means of regression analysis. Regression of ambient pollutants against fetal death as a dose-response toxicity curve revealed very strong dose-response correlations for SO2 r > 0.9 (p < 0.001) while similarly strongly significant correlation coefficients were found for NO2 (r > 0.8), CO (r > 0.9), PM10 (r > 0.9) and PM2.5 (r > 0.8), (p < 0.001), indicating a strong correlation between air pollution and decreased fetal wellbeing. The present study identified alarmingly strong statistical correlations between ambient air pollutants and spontaneous abortion. Further studies need to be done to examine possible correlations between personal exposure to air pollutants and pregnancy loss.
    BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 04/2014; 14(1):146. DOI:10.1186/1471-2393-14-146 · 2.19 Impact Factor
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