MCIJ did air quality monitoring on reliability of data provided by Agaar app with cooperation of Breathe Mongolia NGO. For three weeks since December 20, 2018, we did 101 measurements by using portable air pollution sensors in 6 spots. Each time, measurements verified with photos and posted on social media with data of Agaar app. Based on our collected data and analysis, we observed that data provided by Agaar app is misleadind citizens.
We measured AQI and PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) one or two times a day next to air quality monitoring stations in Zuun ail, Baruun 4 zam, Bukhiin urguu, Televiz and Bayankhoshuu.
Our project in numbers:
-6 locations, 101 measurements, 717 km travel
-105 posts via Эрэн сурвалжлах сэтгүүл зүйн төв / MCIJ FB page
-15460 engagements/ 500 shares reaching 160 000 audience.
-28% increase in media coverage during 3-wks project cycle (TV, website, newspaper)
The project aim was to raise awareness about Government air pollution monitoring stations are feeding correctly.by measuring at the spot PM2.5 and AQI. Disparities were alarming.
Our control station was US Embassy station feed (www.stateair.mn) which correlates with Laser Egg 2 measurement at the spot.
What makes this project innovative?
Why was AQI reduced dramatically in Mongolia? In previous years, the real time AQI was reported. In other words, you had an opportunity to see outdoor air quality near you just by browsing AQI of nearby locations from the Agaar app. But this feature was limited starting from October 10, 2018. “A regulation on AQI measurement and reporting” was updated by the new Decree No A/387 of the Minister of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia. According to this regulation, we receive information a few hours late via the Agaar app. Specifically, the decree requires the measurement of PM 2.5 and PM 10 pollutants by the average of three hours. That’s the reason our measurements were different than air quality monitoring stations. Also, that’s why, the Agaar app numbers are much lower than that of previous years. Agaar app started to report a few hours late information, but no descriptions were provided. Agaar app provides information of only latest hours and maximum and minimum pollution level of the last 24 hours – this information misleads citizens… Aged air quality monitoring stations create fake data! In the new Decree, it’s defined that the AQI shall be measured based on at least three common air pollutants. The Agaar app is supposed to give accurate information to the citizens but it provides misinformation due to the old air monitoring stations in need of recalibration and reparation. During the period we did monitoring, the air quality monitoring stations mostly didn’t report some air pollutants. For instance, 4 stations in Zuun ail, Misheel Expo, Urgakh Naran and Mongol gazar among 11 air quality monitoring stations never reported data of PM 2.5 which is the unhealthiest pollutant. Officials explained that these 4 stations are unable to measure PM 2.5 technically.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
The first General Inquiry Hearing on Air Pollution was organised in January 30, 2019.
Source and methodology
air quality data, we collect by our measurement, and compare with agaar.mn (Government air quality monitoring station) or Stateair (US Embassy's station)
Tableau Public Google Sheet
Amartuvshin Amarsaikhan Munkhchimeg Davaasharav Suvda Ts Tamir Tsolmonbaatar Chimeddondog Tsegmid