ULAN BATOR, May 8 (Xinhua) -- People who live in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator breathed in toxic air for 322 days in 2018, head of the country's National Statistics Office Ayush Ariunzaya said Wednesday.
"Air pollution can result in significant health problems for people who are exposed to it, even for just a few minutes. Unfortunately, residents of Ulan Bator breathed in toxic air in 322 days last year," Ariunzaya said at a national conference, noting that the average density of PM 2.5 in the city was 687 micrograms per cubic meter in those days.
Air pollution is one of the most pressing issues in Ulan Bator, which is home to around half of the country's 3.2-million population, and poses a major threat to the Mongolian people's health.
Ulan Bator had witnessed a 2.7-fold growth in respiratory infections per 10,000 population over the past decade, according to a report released by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Mongolian National Center for Public Health in 2018.
More than 800,000 residents, 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 during the six-month-long winter.
It is estimated that 80 percent of air pollution in the city is caused by ger stoves.
Since the early 2000s, the Mongolian government has carried out a number of measures aimed at reducing air pollution in Ulan Bator. However, the city has not seen a significant reduction in air pollution levels.