Weather in UB

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pollution, Sickness, Remedies and Ulaana

"Winter" is setting in here in Mongolia. I say "winter" because the temperature has been fluctuating so much that is un-winter like. The day will start at 20F and it'll heat up to 55F. How do you dress for that? Whatever you leave your house wearing will eventually get peeled off over the course of the day as you begin to heat up and sweat. This is probably one of the factors contributing to my current sore throat. The other main problem contributing to my sore throat (and persistent headache) is the pollution. I know I keep talking about it, and this sure as hell ain't Beijing, but my poor, unarmed, Midwestern body was not prepared for the pollution. My Mongolian friend best described the headache that the pollution can give you as "a hangover that won't go away."
I did some searching online and I found this report given by Ch. Bat-Director of the Economy and Strategy Policy Department. It outlined these as the most important environmental issues in UB:
The three most visible environmental issues in UB are:
- air pollution from domestic burning of coal, wood and dung for heating and
cooking, particularly in the informal Ger Areas. A recent study in the Dari-Ekh Khoroo of UB estimated air pollution levels to be 16 times accepted international levels.
- lack of adequate solid waste management;
- land degradation through an absence of urban planning, land management and infrastructure development:
-unplanned Ger Area sprawl has encroached on land subject to erosion;
- lack of protection of critical urban drainage courses increases erosion, pollutes downstream water courses, and helps spread disease from poor sanitation facilities and improperly handled solid waste;
-urban sprawl is reducing immediately available grazing land;
-rural deforestation contributes to the increasing severity of seasonal dust storms.
Perhaps less visible, but equally critical is the poor condition of residential sanitation facilities, again primarily in the Ger Areas.

I'm sorry, does that say 16 times accepted international levels of air pollution???
I suppose I should quit complaining about my headaches and just be happy to be alive! The dust storm thing is crazy too. Apparently dust storms in Mongolia carry pollution and dust all the way to Seattle, and have on occasion caused pollution levels to rise in South Korea. I was once caught in a dust storm in Choibalsan where I could not see my hand in front of my face. Here is a picture of me after a walk in the countryside that ended in a dust storm that you could see coming like a tornado (circa 2005) and a picture of a dust storm in Choibalsan (circa 2004).

Enough about dust, because I have no real beef with that at the moment, just pollution. Everyone around me is getting sick, and I have fallen victim too. I had a meeting last week with some Western doctors who work here in UB, who noted an acceptionally high amount of respiratory issues. So, what, you may ask is being done about the pollution? As far as I can see, not much. Unlucky for me, it'll only get worse as it gets colder and people burn all kinds of things to keep warm, and the government keeps burns unwashed coal in the power plants that surround me.

Since everyone I know is sick, or just was sick, or is on their way to being sick, I've received plenty of advice on herbal remedies. One such remedy is to drink the juice of the Sea Buckthorn berry. Apparently it has loads of vitamin C. I'm gonna head to the pharmacy and bypass all the crazy drugs I can buy over the counter here and get some Sea Buckthorn hopefully from Russia or Mongolia (I have this crazy fear of medicine from China!) I'll let you know how it pans out. Perhaps I should also purchase an air filtering mask!


Andrew Campbell said...

Bagsh: Get well soon! And stop hanging out in the ger districts without your chemical warfare suit on. Recognize that lovely sandstormed street, though.

Keep on rocking.

Christian said...

My mother insisted I pack a bunch of those masks when I left the States. At first I thought she was being a bit overzealous, but now not so much.

Also, that dust storm makes the hurricanes I walked through in Florida on several occasions look comparatively pleasant. At least then it was kinda warm outside and I was effectively getting a free shower.

Azamat said...

Buckthorn berries are one of the popular medicines, apart from vodka of course, for many sicknesses here in Kyrgyzstan as well.
Get well soon!

Leah said...

Why don't you just ask your mom to DHL some of her morning urine????

Anonymous said...

Ulaana,hatsar chin sairtaad hoorhon hodooni jaal boltson bainshdee...! (ask one of your friends for translation, didn't mean to be mean though)

Ulaana said...

HA! Chi hin be? zareem ug nedzaa acculcan. Odoo bi sain olig baina. For those of you who don't speak Mongolian, anonymous wrote:
Your dirty cheeks look like a beautiful countryside boy!
I got to learn the word for cheeks and another word for boy! Thanks for increasing my vocabulary, and yer right, bi yag hodooni jaal shig!