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Analysis of the causes of high mortality due to lung cancer and cardiopulmonary disease in Mongolia

Mongolia, where more than 50% of the population lives in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar[3], is facing serious environmental risks due to poor environmental management by the government, poor human activity, and extreme weather conditions[6]. In the face of urban expansion, there is a need for more space for people to move around but Mongolia’s public facilities are not yet able to meet the demand,  the existing space is becoming overloaded and the pressure on the environment is increasing[6]. The integrated thickness meter captured high rates of PM2.5 during seasonal daytime conditions and during the winter months, consistent with the influence of heavy coal and wood burning in low-income housing (GER) areas of the city. PM2.5 heights of more than seven times the air quality guidelines set by the WHO were detected in the Ulaanbaatar city center, with an annual average concentration of 75 g/m3. In winter PM2.5 values were 148 g/m3 and average concentrations in GER were as high as 250 g/m3. The 29% (95% CI, 1243%) of cardiopulmonary deaths and 40% (95% CI, 1756%) of lung cancer deaths in the city equate to nearly 10% of the total mortality rate in the city, and estimates exceed 13% of the mortality rate, which may be attributed to outdoor air pollution[2].


Mongolia is currently in a period of urgent economic development and the development of industry has become a very essential approach. The mining industry has been on the rise due to the country’s mineral wealth, and it has been able to strengthen its industrial advancement[9]. However, deforestation, soil erosion, and desertification are increasing in Mongolia. Legal regulations and environmental management procedures in Mongolia have not kept pace with the increase in economic standards so that the health and well-being of the population are not being adequately safeguarded. Changes in the surrounding environment and social inequalities can lead to a range of negative health effects[7]. Therefore, these environmental changes have led to the high exposure of Mongolian people to polluting gases, chemical toxins that are harmful to their bodies, such as metals, environmental tobacco smoke, etc[8].


Firstly, air pollution. According to the WHO Household Energy Database survey shows that The majority of the Mongolian population uses solid fuels (coal) for heating and subsistence because of the cold climate in Mongolia, the number of stoves used in homes is increasing and the use of coal is rising[5]. Thus, the number of household stoves used is rising and the use of coal is also increasing. The second is the exposure of metals, as many water containers in Mongolia have been found to contain high levels of lead, due to the lack of strict control over the industrial environment, which has led to chemical contamination of water bodies. Thirdly, the sanitation of water resources is a concern, with over 70% of water resources not being properly protected and the majority of Mongolians using untreated water. Fourthly, poor tobacco control leads to very high smoking rates, and 33.7% of minors smoking even in primary and secondary schools.


Therefore, lower respiratory infections are an important source of national health care that Mongolia needs to undertake. The mortality rate from respiratory diseases also rises at any time when the concentration of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter in the air in the environment increases. These risk factors increase the exposure of the population to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and children face obstacles to their respiratory fitness and neurological development, such as chronic bronchitis, pneumoconiosis, asthma, tuberculosis, lung cancer, poisoning, and musculoskeletal and cardiovascular diseases[4].


What can be done to ensure the country’s economic development while promoting the health and well-being of the population is a topic well worth discussing. The article I read suggested these measures that could be taken:

  1. Promoting the use of clean energy (e.g. natural gas, etc.)
  2. Learning from the experiences of countries with similar geographical and weather conditions on how to deal with these problems
  3. Regulate production standards and industrial emission standards
  4. Increasing the system for regulating tobacco and promote smoke-free public places
  5. Regulate the treatment of water resources and connect every household to a central water system
  6. Training for people working in the heavy industry on how to handle metal hazards


Too many environmental conditions have been sacrificed to promote the country’s economic development. People generally live in a polluted world, it is only a matter of how much this pollution is. The situation in Mongolia is not unusual. However, I hope that all countries will become aware of their environmental problems and actively seek ways to deal with them so that their citizens can live in a healthy space with as little environmental threat as possible.



[1]Allen, R. W. et al. (2009) Fine Particulate Matter Air Pollution, Proximity to Traffic, and Aortic Atherosclerosis. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.). [Online] 20 (2), 254–264.

[2]Allen, R.W., Gombojav, E., Barkhasragchaa, B., Byambaa, T., Lkhasuren, O., Amram, O., Takaro, T.K. & Janes, C.R. 2013, “An assessment of air pollution and its attributable mortality in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia”, Air Quality, Atmosphere, & Health, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 137-150.

[3]Anon (n.d.) Resident population, by urban and rural population, by area and year

[4]Brook, R. D. et al. (2010) Particulate matter air pollution and cardiovascular disease: An update to the scientific statement from the american heart association. Circulation (New York, N.Y.). [Online] 121 (21), 2331–2378.

[5]Davy, P. K. et al. (2011) Air particulate matter pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia: determination of composition, source contributions and source locations. Atmospheric pollution research. [Online] 2 (2), 126–137.

[6]Jadambaa, A. et al. (2015) ‘The Impact of the Environment on Health in Mongolia: A Systematic Review’, Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 27(1), pp. 45–75. doi: 10.1177/1010539514545648.

[7]Lim, SS, Vos, T, Flaxman, AD. A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010.

[8]Nagniin, S. et al. (2011) Air Pollution and Health Ulaanbaatar City of Mongolia. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.). [Online] 22S149–S150.

[9]Spickett, J., Batmunkh, T. and Jones, S. (2015) ‘Health Impact Assessment in Mongolia: Current Situation, Directions, and Challenges’, Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 27(2), pp. NP2732–NP2739. doi: 10.1177/1010539512455043.


  1. Shumin Ma
    Shumin Ma 15th October 2021


    This is such a comprehensive and informative blog and joy to read it. It sure you prepared much on this important topic. As we all know, in lots of developing countries, they still less consider about health care rather want use industry system to improve their GDP and global status. With a long time focusing on economic development in Mongolia, just like you said putting workforce on mining, will really bring a link of environmental issues which is the main factor to cause respiratory diseases in trend to it is still a pressing concern need to be solved. In your blog, there are lots of measures be mentioned, I also want to add some methods like welfare mask for the main workers and regular medical check-ups as well as transformation of machinery and equipment.


  2. Yuyin
    Yuyin 16th October 2021

    Hello, Yunjie

    Your blog pleasantly surprised me. I was previously aware that the majority of human infectious illnesses are related to water pollution. However, I was unaware that non-infectious diseases like lung cancer and heart disease are also closely linked to water pollution, emphasizing protecting water sources. Mongolia, as you stated in your blog, is in urgent need of economic growth. Industrial emissions will unavoidably have an impact on the environment. Maintaining economic development while protecting water sources from contamination is critical to addressing the problem since it is directly linked to health and well-being. Furthermore, we all know that combating environmental pollution takes time, so what can individuals do in their daily lives to prevent lung cancer and heart disease when Mongolia’s pollution situation may not disappear overnight? It is, in my opinion, a problem that many individuals in developing nations face. I’d want to sit down with you and go through this in-depth.


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