Air pollution or grasslands – which is more likely to come to mind when you think of Mongolia? Air purifiers and air pollution masks certainly aren’t top on the packing list when people are heading off to Mongolia, but should they?
According to The Guardian, Ulaan Bator is the world’s second most polluted mega city. From 2008-2011, the average PM 2.5 air pollution level was nearly 150 micrograms. In 2014, Beijing averaged 98 micrograms; the WHO 24-hour limit is 25 micrograms.
Is it a bustling manufacturing sector? Manufacturing is still a tiny percentage of the Mongolian economy. Cars filling the streets? Not that either.
It turns out, most of Ulaan Baatar’s pollution is from people burning coal to keep warm. A little heat is necessary where winter temperatures dip to -40 C.
Yet all that air pollution causes 1 in every 10 deaths in the capital, according to an academic study. That makes clean air an urgent need in this city of 1.2 million people.
What can you do to protect yourself from air pollution? Smart Air came up with a novel idea of strapping a filter to a fan, to create simple, low cost and effective air purifiers. In 2015, we hosted our first-ever Mongolia DIY Air Purifier workshops in Ulaan Baatar!
Since then, we’ve established ourselves as the go-to people for air purifiers and air pollution in Ulaanbaatar and Mongolia. We’re still running air pollution workshops. If you want to learn how DIY air purifiers can help remove dangerous particulate pollution from inside the home, send us an email and we’ll run a workshop for you! We’ll explain how even the priciest purifiers use a fan to push air through a HEPA filter. Workshop participants will make their own air purifier in just 10 minutes, and they’ll take it home to start breathing easier right away.
Thomas is an Associate Professor of Behavior Science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the founder of, a social enterprise to help people in China breathe clean air without shelling out thousands of dollars for expensive purifiers.