Heavy Metals in the Air and Snow Cover of Ulan Bator
City of Ulaanbaatar predominantly records gaseous pollutants; however, dangerous heavy metals and metalloids are not well studied. With cars and industrial processes in the polluted urban center emitting Pb, Zn, Cd, Cu, Fe and V, metal pollution is important to study. This study sampled air and snow in 5 functional zones in Ulaanbaatar from early Dec – March 2008/2009. Total metals in the air and snow were analyzed for hazard class I (Be, Cr, Cd and Pb), II (Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, As and Co), III (Zn, Mo, Sn, Sb, W and Bi) and IV (V) in addition to Ti, Sr, Th and U by ICP-MS. Results indicate that the atmospheric deposition concentrations of the metal species are higher than the crustal element by factors of several tens and hundreds.
Comparison of heavy metal concentrations showed that the center of the city has many metals exceeding maximum permissible mean daily concentration; Pb by factors of 10-26, Mn by a factor of 11, Be and Fe by factor of 2-3, Ni by a factor of 2-5, Cu and Cr by a factor of 1-2, and Zn by a factor of up to 1. The main sources applying metals to the atmosphere are dust, industries and transport, and thermal power industries. These sources increase emissions during the wintertime. Pb is particularly hazardous in Ulaanbaatar which was found all over the city. Maximum air pollution was recorded in the central part of the city and the most polluted snow cover is found in the yurt district. This research highlights the need to regulate sources of heavy metals into the atmosphere.
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