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Air pollution kills infants in the womb

Trans. by D.SERGELEN

The biggest and hardest thing about living in Ulaanbaatar, especially in winter, is overcoming air pollution. Every year, higher authorities discuss effective ways to reduce air pollution and Ulaanbaatar residents get tired of their discussions. It seems that only wind fights against air pollution.
At present, citizens who reside in the following districts are living in hazardous conditions:
• Bayanzurkh District- population: 294,908
• Bayangol District- population: 192,614
• Songinokhairkhan District- population: 261,917
• Sukhbaatar District- population 137,834
• Chinggeltei District- population: 155,000

In total, over one million people face disastrous health risks.

Air pollution and health

International and national experts’ research shows that air pollution negatively effects health; increases the rates of respiratory, cardiovascular and central nervous system diseases; and is linked to allergies, hereditary illness, birth defects, and cancer. Moreover, it inhibits reproductive health (damages embryos and increases the risk of miscarriages) and impacts children’s immune systems and growth.
Health problems confronting Ulaanbaatar residents:
• People cannot get rid of colds and coughs in winter. People of all ages are affected. Even though, there are no symptoms of a cold, people can’t shake off coughing.
• Persistent coughing in children from the ages of 0 to 5 can bring on pneumonia. Mongolia’s children from the ages of 0 to 5 are losing their lives to pneumonia, which is recorded as the nation’s second highest cause of death by disease.
• Allergies are widespread.
• The risk of mortality, miscarriage and fetal death increases
• The risk of cardiovascular disease and death rises
• There were over 40,187 live births in 2013 in Ulaanbaatar and 546 infant deaths were registered, which was an increase of 10.9 percent from the previous year’s data. A total of 1,438 infant deaths were recorded nationwide, out which 45.6 percent only occurred in cities.
• Leading cause of these deaths in infants and children under age 5 was respiratory disease. Among them, pneumonia occupies 87.2 percent.

Looking at Fig. 2, we can see how disease affects some of our most vulnerable city residents.
Looking at different statistics, 380 infant birth defects were registered in 2013, which grew by 13.6 percent from the previous year. It is hard to connect these results with air pollution and we need further research to clarify air pollution’s link to these cases.

U.S. study links air pollution to miscarriage

Experts at The Saban Research Institute at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles conducted research in Mongolia and published a paper in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.
Their paper mentioned that the level of carbon dioxide in the air is 23 times higher in winter in Ulaanbaatar. They investigated the connection between miscarriages (not including abortion) and seasonal air pollution and received data from the National Center for Maternal and Children’s Health.
The study compared those statistics with 1,219 women whose pregnancies ended before their 20th week, from 2009 to 2011. The number and frequency of miscarriage dramatically dropped or increased depending on the season.
Miscarriages occur in 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies in Mongolia, and this number was close to the rate of miscarriages in the U.S. and western countries. In 2011, there were 23 miscarriages in every 1,000 pregnancies in May 2011, and the number increased to 73 in November 2011. As soon as the days get shorter, air pollution is on the rise.

How much is spent on reducing air pollution?

One organization with the potential to reduce and fight air pollution is the Clean Air Fund. It is financed by the state budget and foreign investments.
Fig. 4 shows the expenditures of the Clean Air Fund. Many projects valued in billions of MNT have been executed by domestic and international organizations working in Ulaanbaatar.

Air pollution creates economic challenges

Medicines for respiratory infection and disease cost a minimum of 1,000 MNT and pills for children cost much more, approximately 16,000 to 25,000 MNT. Nowadays, parents spend more money on cures and medicine, and it is expected that parents will continue to spend more. Unless we establish hospitals for lung and respiratory diseases, children’s illnesses will continue to spread rapidly.
Air pollution threatens public health and the economy, and is about to become a big issue for population growth and national security.

Brief facts about air pollution:

• Air pollution shortens human life expectancy by one to two years
• Air pollution is more dangerous for children than adults, as children spend more time playing outside
• There are outdoor and indoor causes of air pollution. Smoking at home is an example of indoor air pollution
• Electric vehicles emit less pollution
• Excessive exposure to air pollution can result in children developing narrow airways in their lungs.

Source: http://news.gogo.mn/r/151489

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=12869

Posted by on Dec 17 2014. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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