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Air Pollution : Preserving Your Health

Air pollution is a pervasive problem that affects millions of people worldwide. In many countries, the air we breathe is contaminated with hazardous pollutants that seriously threaten our health. To address this issue, many countries have set international standards on air pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the annual mean concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5) should not exceed 5 micrograms per cubic meter (1).

Factors Contributing to outdoor Air Pollution

Outdoor air pollution is present almost everywhere in the world. It is primarily caused by human activities such as transportation, industrial activities, and energy production. The burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas releases pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particles which matter into the air. In addition, industries and factories emit chemicals and particles into the air, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Agricultural activities are also responsible for air pollution by using pesticides and fertilizers. Moreover, natural sources like dust storms, wildfires, and volcanic eruptions can also cause air pollution (2) (3) (4).

Factors Contributing to Air Pollution Indoorsside

In addition to outdoor air pollution, the indoor pollution one is also a real threat to our health and the environment. Common sources of indoor air pollution include household cleaning products, pesticides, building materials, and furniture. In addition, many modern appliances such as gas stoves and heaters can release harmful gasses and particles into the air. Air indoor pollution is often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels than outdoor air because indoor air is often trapped in enclosed spaces, making it more difficult for pollutants to disperse, and leading to

the accumulation of pollutants over time. Paying attention to air pollution reduction in green building design is therefore critical, especially given that we spend 88% of our time indoors. (5) (6)

How do we deal with air pollution in our projects?

For the AHURP project , fighting air pollution is our focus design point. This project is AHURP and aims to deliver 10,000 green housing unit, affordable, and designed to maximize the use of renewable energy, while reconfiguring 100 hectares of Ger areas into low-carbon, climate-resilient eco-districts.

It is located in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital city, where the air quality index regularly reaches hazardous levels, with PM2.5 levels exceeding 10 times the World Health Organization's recommended safe level. This is primarily caused by coal burning for heating and cooking. Such levels of air pollution frequently cause respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular disease. The AHURP project aims to reduce air pollution in Ulaanbaatar city by implementing various strategies. These include moving the population from Ger housing to multifamily dwellings that use non-coal energy sources, improving building insulation, installing high efficiency filters, and shifting to a more efficient and less pollutant central supply source for heating. Additionally, solar PV panels are being installed to provide zero emission electricity that partly replaces power produced in the CES using old, inefficient, lignite-fired power plants. (7)

How can you limit air pollution at your home?

There are various ways to limit air pollution inside your home. The first step is to identify potential sources of pollution previously mentioned and try to eliminate or reduce the use of these sources as much as possible.

Secondly, make sure that your home is well-ventilated to allow the circulation of fresh air. You can open windows and doors to let in fresh air, or use mechanical ventilation systems such as exhaust fans or air purifiers.

Thirdly, maintain a healthy level of humidity in your home by using dehumidifiers or humidifiers, depending on your location and climate. High humidity can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can worsen indoor air quality.

Finally, consider using indoor plants as natural air purifiers. Certain plants, such as spider plants and peace lilies, have been found to absorb harmful pollutants from the air. By taking these steps, you can limit the sources of indoor air pollution and improve the quality of the air you breathe inside your home.