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Arshad - you are not alone in being new to the subject of RADON in Ulaanbaatar. It took us about 10 years to begin to understand it! Yet a great deal of information exists on this topic in academic journals and conference reports, but has been completely overlooked by all western consultants. The considerable achievements of Mongolian and Russian scientists in studies of U and RADON in Ulaanbaatar now needs integrating by them with donor support into Building Codes, Air Pollution projects and measures to cut the ash in the coal BEFORE it arrives in the city e.g. by investing in cleaning the coal at the mine sites and by bringing cleaner Gobi coal to the power plants. Special studies on RADON are needed in ger areas and new buildings to see how they can be modified at low cost to disperse radon - it is relatively easy to do. We are keen to raise awareness of the issue and to spread technical information. Much of it is presented on our website ( get the PDF), but the starred items (*) we have gathered since: RADON in ULAANBAATAR All coal is very slightly radioactive but rarely sufficient to affect human health. However Mongolia’s coal basins have sediment-associated uranium occurrences and some may prove to be world-class U deposits. For instance the Geofund records U occurrences close to some coal mines, notably Shivee Ovoo Coal Mine [14] which is one of Ulaanbaatar’s main suppliers of power station coal. A risk may arise if power stations burn coal that has above-normal radioactivity. We believe this is likely to be the case for power stations in the capital. When such coal is burned most of its radioactive traces remain locked in the residual ash. Hence ash is slightly more radioactive than the coal it came from [3, 20]. The risk is not from ash discharged as smoke to the atmosphere via the power station’s stack. Although this contributes to Ulaanbaatar’s poor air quality in winter, ‘dilute and disperse’ of the airborne ash will render its already low radioactivity extremely low indeed. The risk from radioactivity arises from Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA) settled out in lagoons. PFA is strongly alkaline and often has high levels of heavy metals. Ideally PFA lagoons should be sited away from water courses [23] and sealed from aquifers. Unfortunately all the PFA lagoons in Ulaanbaatar are sited above the aquifer that is the city’s sole supply of water, while the PFA lagoons of TES #3 are next to the main channel of the Tuul River. To minimise ash being vented into the sky, as much PFA as possible is removed by electrostatic dust precipitators and piped as slurry to settling lagoons where it settles out. The PFA has an economic value, being sold to local makers of PFA-cement blocks who sell them in huge quantities to Ulaanbaatar’s construction industry. The risk is from PFA-cement blocks incorporated into interior walls of thousands of new buildings in Ulaanbaatar. Such buildings are double glazed, insulated and centrally heated in winter, encouraging traces of radon escaping from the PFA-cement blocks to accumulate in rooms and perhaps exceed international safety norms. The risk to human health of radon in buildings has become better understood since 1996 when the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended a maximum exposure of 1,000 Becquerel’s/m3. In September 2009 the WHO slashed the recommended maximum level tenfold to 100 Becquerel’s/m3 [37] and presented evidence that radon exposure causes in the range of 3-14% of all lung cancers. The WHO now advises that if a country cannot meet the new standard, levels should not exceed 300 Becquerel’s/m3, noting that the risk of lung cancer rises 16% per 100 Becquerel’s. The task now is to do radon assessments of thousands of houses and apartments in Ulaanbaatar. Mongolian scientists possess the know-how [13], but funding is weak although preliminary studies have been published [18]. Some tests have already been made on the soils around TES #4 and on the coals it uses [7, 8, 9]. We suggest a special risk may exist for caretakers and their families in gers and sheds constructed on ground covered in PFA in fenced yards of PFA processors. The WHO claims that radon exposure adds to the risk of lung cancer from cigarette smoke. In highly insulated gers with radon entering from PFA soil, the risk of lung cancer among smokers and passive inhalers is apparent. According to Dr. Badarch and colleagues [5] if coal cleaning facilities operated at Baganuur and Shivee Ovoo then the calorific content would be boosted before delivery to TES #4. This would save 134,000 tons of coal a year, cut the work of the electrostatic precipitators in removing ash, conserve scarce space in the PFA settling ponds, cut air pollution significantly in Ulaanbaatar, reduce radon-emitting materials and reduce rail congestion. References: 3. Anon (2009). Potential environmental impact associated with pulverized fuel ash. Chapter 11 in: West New Territories (WENT) Landfill Extensions - Feasibility Study Final Environmental Impact Assessment Report. Ove Arup & Partners. 5. Badarch, Mendbayar; Damdinsuren Gantulga, Gombusoren Luvsan and Jargal Dorjpurev (2006). Energy Efficiency Study of Thermal Power Plant #4 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Promotion of Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Abatement (PREGA). Technical Report submitted to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 46 pages. 7. Batmunkh, S.; and Z. Battogtokh (2007). The exhausting pollutants from coal combustion of Fourth Thermal Power Plant of Ulaanbaatar. International Forum on Strategic Technology held October 2007 in Ulaanbaatar. Proceedings, pages 158-161. 8. Batmunkh, S.; S. Enkhbat, B. Erdev, Z. Battogtokh and T. Batbuyan (2007). Activity concentrations of natural radionuclides in soil near TPP-4 of Ulaanbaatar. International Forum on Strategic Technology IFOST, held 3rd-6th October 2007 in Ulaanbaatar. Proceedings, pages 628-629. 9. Batmunkh, S.; J. Garidkhuu, T. Bat-Ulzii, B. Erdev, P. Ochirbat and B. Jargalsaikhan (2007). Ecological map of Ulaanbaatar city. International Forum on Strategic Technology held October 2007 in Ulaanbaatar. Proceedings, pages 636-637. 13. Damdinsuren, Ts.; G. Manlaijav and N. Oyuntulkhuur (2004). Country Report - Mongolia. Appendix 15B, PowerPoint Presentation to International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA/RCA Mid-term Review Meeting of National Focal Persons on Radiation Protection, held 7-11th June 2004 in Beijing. 14. Dejidmaa, G.; B. Bujinlkham, A. Eviihuu, B. Enkhtuya, T. Ganbaatar, N. Moenkh-Erdene and N. Oyuntuya (2001). Distribution Map of Deposits and Occurrences in Mongolia (at the scale of 1:1,000,000). Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia. 15. Dill, H.G.; S. Altangerel, J. Bulgamaa, O. Hongor, S. Khishigsuren, Yo. Majigsuren, S. Myagmarsuren and C. Heunisch (2004). The Baganuur coal deposit, Mongolia: depositional environments and paleoecology of a Lower Cretaceous coal-bearing intermontane basin in Eastern Asia. International Journal of Coal Geology, volume 60, pages 197-236. 18. Erdev, B.; and B. Munkhtsetseg (2007). Determination outdoor and indoor air radon concentration in buildings of Ulaanbaatar city. International Forum on Strategic Technology held October 2007 in Ulaanbaatar. Proceedings, pages 173-176. 20. Gooding, Tracy (2006). Radon and PFA. Environmental Radon Newsletter #46, Spring Issue, page 2. 23. Guyoncourt, D.M.M.; B.J.B. Crowley and R.M.G. Eeles (2005). Pollution Risks Associated with the Deposition of PFA Slurry into the Radley Lakes. Save Radley Lakes, 23 pages. 37. Zeeb, Hajo; and Ferid Shannoun (editors) (2009). WHO handbook on indoor radon: a public health perspective. 1. Radon - adverse effects. 2. Air pollutants, Radioactive. 3. Air pollution, Indoor. 4. Carcinogens, Environmental. 5. Radiation, Ionizing. 6. Lung neoplasms. 7. Environmental exposure. World Heath Organisation (WHO), Geneva, 95 pages. Additional References: *Altangerel, M.; N. Norova and D. Altangerel (2009). Study of Natural Radioactivity in Coal Samples of Baganuur Coal Mine, Mongolia. American Institute of Physics (AIP), Proceedings of the First Ulaanbaatar Conference on Nuclear Physics and Applications, volume 1109, pages 135-138. *Dalhcuren B.; and colleagues (1995). Determination of heavy metals in the air of the city of Ulan-Bator. Abstracts of 3rd International Meeting of Nuclear Physics for Protection of the Environment¯ (NPPE-95), Dubna, May 1995, page 53. *Erkhembayar, Ts.; N. Norov, G. Khuukhenkhuu and Ts. Oyunchimeg (2002). Soil and Coal Radioactivity around Zuunmod Town of Mongolia. Proceedings of the 2nd International School on Contemporary Physics, ISCP-2, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 9-19th September 2002, pages 183-188. *Erdev, B.; and B. Dalkhsuren (2005). Investigations of Radioactivity and Microelements in Atmospheric Air by Nuclear Physical Methods. In: Proceedings of International School on Contemporary Physics-III, ISCP-III, August 08-15th 2005, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; pages 136-139. *Erdev, B.; Z. Battogtokh and B. Munkhtsetseg (2005). Detection radon concentration in dwellings and working places. Proceedings of International Scientific Conference in Power Industry and Market Economy IFOST, 4-7th May 2005, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, pages 224-230. *Erdev, B.; and B. Munkhtsetseg (2007). Determination outdoor and indoor air radon concentration in buildings of Ulaanbaatar city. International Forum on Strategic Technology IFOST, held October 2007 in Ulaanbaatar. Proceedings, pages 173-176. *Ganbold, G.; Sh. Gerbish, S.F. Gundorina, M.V. Frontasyeva, T.M. Ostrovnaya, S.S. Pavlov and Ts. Tsendeekhuu (2005). Atmospheric Deposition of Trace Elements Around Ulan-Bator City Studied by Moss and Lichen Biomonitoring Technique and INA. Communication of the JINR, Dubna, 2005, E18-2005-113, AE18-2005-113, Физик - МУИС-ийн эрдэм шинжилгээний сэтгүүл, 2005, #225(12), volume 10, pages 66-74. *Gerbish Sh.; G. Ganbold and Ts. Tsendeekhuu (2005). Study of atmospheric deposition using INAA by indicator plants (Lichen and Moss). Proceedings of the International Conference 'Ecosystems of Mongolia and Frontier Areas of Adjacent Countries: Natural Resources, Biodiversity and Ecological Prospects’, 5-9th September 2005, Ulaanbaatar Mongolia, pages 212-214. *Gerbish, Sh.; G. Ganbold and G. Ganchimeg (2000). Natural Radioactivity of Some Mongolian Building Materials. ‘Research of Environmental Changes’ reports of the Training Workshop, ‘Long Term Ecological Research’ project, Institute of Geoecology, Mongolian Academy of Science, 2000, pages 11-17. *Gerbish, Sh.; G. Ganbold and G. Ganchimeg (2001). Natural Radioactivity of Some Mongolian Building Materials. Scientific Transactions (Construction & Architecture Corporation, Mongolia), 2002/1, pages 122-128. *Lodoysamba, S.; D. Shagjjamba and M. Chadraabal (2005). First Results of the Monitoring Study on Ambient Air Quality in the Ulaanbaatar City by Nuclear Techniques. In: Proceedings of International School on Contemporary Physics-III, ISCP-III, 8-15th August 2005, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, pages 146-148. *Norov, N.; and colleagues (1998). Study of uranium distribution in coal samples. Scientific Transactions of the National University of Mongolian 1998 #4 (137), page 68. *Oyunchimeg, Ts; N. Norov and G. Kuukhenkhuu (2006). The simple method of emitted radon dose calculation. World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering 2006 “Imaging the Future Medicine”, 27th August - 1st September 2006 COEX Seoul, Korea. *Oyunchimeg, Ts.; G. Khuukhenkhuu, N. Norov and I. Ajnai (2002). Radon in Mineral Spring Water of Mongolia. Proceedings of the 3rd Korea-Japan Joint Meeting on Medical Physics and the Second Asia Oceania Congress of Medical Physics, September 26-28th 2002, Gyeongju, Korea, pages 279-281; In Book of Abstracts: International School on Contemporary Physics, 9-19th September 2002, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, page 85. *Shagjjamba, D.; and P. Zuzaan (2006). Results of Radiation level study in some territories of Mongolia. FOOTNOTE: FLUOROSIS in CHINA from COAL and COAL BRIQUETTES Fluorosis is a disease aftecting millions of people in China, and one of the causes is coal briquettes made of fluorine-rich clays. Mongolia has time to avoid this risk if studies commence promptly. Coal briquettes are made either from unsellable coal fragments or from crushing inferior ‘stone coal’ that has high clay content. The powdered material is mixed with a binder such as clay or cement and may be mixed with oil or other calorific supplements. After squeezing in a mould and dried the resultant briquette is a valuable source of fuel for heating homes, buildings and light industries. Artisanal and small-scale coal briquette factories are found throughout China but are unusual in Mongolia. Such factories are prominent on Google Earth due to the crushed coal carpeting the ground. The largest group of such factories detected on Google Earth are clustered along a 60-kilometre ribbon extending from the Beijing district border through Tumu, Hualiali County to Xuanhua. While coal briquettes are usually safe, acute health issues can arise. The coal may have very high levels of fluorine that exceeds the safety threshold of 190mg F/kg coal which gives a scientific basis for ascertaining coal-burning endemic fluorosis-affected areas and potential threaten areas [28]. Such briquettes are one cause of fluorosis in China [36]. Even if the coal has low fluorine content, the clay used as binder to make the coal briquette may have very high fluorine levels, and this is a major cause of fluorosis in China [39]. In some regions, coal is rich in arsenic and such briquettes are one cause of arsenism in China [29]. 28. Li, Yonghua; Wuyi Wang, Linsheng Yang and Hairong Li (2003). Environmental epidemic characteristics of coal-burning endemic fluorosis and the safety threshold of coal fluoride in China - Research Report. Fluoride, volume 36, pages 106-111. 29. Liu, Jie; Baoshan Zheng, H. Vasken Aposhian, Yunshu Zhou, Ming-Liang Chen, Aihua Zhang and Michael Waalkes (2002). Chronic arsenic poisoning from burning high-arsenic-containing coal in Guizhou, China. 36. Wu G-S. (1986). Fluorosis with smoke pollution from burning coal. China Journal of Epidemiology, volume 4, pages 267-269. 39. Zheng, Baoshan; Aimin Wang, Qixing Lu and Robert Finkelman (2006). Endemic fluorosis and high-F clay. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, volume 70, Supplement #1, page A744.