Exposure to PM2.5 and Blood Lead Level in Two Populations in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

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Enkhbat, U.; Rule, A.M.; Resnick, C.; Ochir, C.; Olkhanud, P.; Williams, D.L. Exposure to PM2.5 and Blood Lead Level in Two Populations in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 214.  doi: 10.3390/ijerph13020214

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DOI: 10.3390/ijerph13020214
Air pollution
Indoor air
Particulate matter
Blood lead
Coal burning
Women's health

Approximately 60% of the households in Ulaanbaatar live in gers (a traditional Mongolian dwelling) in districts outside the legal limits of the city, without access to basic infrastructure, such as water, sewage systems, central heating, and paved roads, in contrast to apartment residents. This stark difference in living conditions creates different public health challenges for Ulaanbaatar residents. Through this research study we aim to test our hypothesis that women living in gers burning coal in traditional stoves for cooking and heating during the winter are exposed to higher concentrations of airborne PM2.5 than women living in apartments in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and this exposure may include exposures to lead in coal with effects on blood lead levels. This cross sectional study recruited a total of 50 women, 40–60 years of age, from these two settings. Air sampling was carried out during peak cooking and heating times, 5:00 p.m.–11:00 p.m., using a direct-reading instrument (TSI SidePak™) and integrated polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) filters using the SKC Personal Environmental Monitor. Blood lead level (BLL) was measured using a LeadCare II rapid field test method. In our study population, measured PM2.5 geometric mean (GM) concentrations using the SidePak™ in the apartment group was 31.5 (95% CI:17–99) μg/m3, and 100 (95% CI: 67–187) μg/m3 in ger households (p < 0.001). The GM integrated gravimetric PM2.5 concentrations in the apartment group were 52.8 (95% CI: 39–297) μg/m3 and 127.8 (95% CI: 86–190) μg/m3 in ger households (p = 0.004). The correlation coefficient for the SidePak™ PM2.5 concentrations and filter based PM2.5 concentrations was r = 0.72 (p < 0.001). Blood Lead Levels were not statistically significant different between apartment residents and ger residents (p = 0.15). The BLL is statistically significant different (p = 0.01) when stratified by length of exposures outside of the home. This statistically significant difference in increased BLL could be due to occupational or frequent exposure to other sources of indoor or outdoor air pollution that were not measured. Blood lead levels from our study population are the  study measurements published on women aged 40–60 years of age in Mongolia

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