ULAN BATOR, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Residents in Mongolia's capital city of Ulan Bator have been advised to wear masks to protect themselves from heavy air pollution in winter.
"Wearing masks is the first measure we can take to protect ourselves from air pollution. So, residents of the city always need to wear filtering face masks during the months of winter," Lamjav Byambasuren, vice health minister, told a press conference on Friday.
The Health Ministry launched a campaign on Friday to motivate people to wear masks and promote a healthy habit among masses considering the pollution, Byambasuren said.
The campaign, which will last until the spring season, will invite famous Mongolian artists and relevant officials to distribute filtering face masks to people in the city and give lectures on how to protect against air pollution.
Ulan Bator, home to more than half of the country's population of 3.2 million, suffers from one of the world's worst air pollution in winter.
More than 800,000 residents, over half of Ulan Bator's population, live in slums, also known as ger districts. They burn raw coal and other flammable materials to keep warm and cook meals during the winter season.
It is estimated that 80 percent of air pollution in the city is caused by ger stoves.
Pneumonia caused by air pollution is now the second leading cause for the deaths of kids under the age of five in the country, according to a joint study by the Mongolian National Center for Public Health and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Also, children living in a highly polluted district of central Ulan Bator are found to have 40 percent lower lung function than those from rural areas.