Siegfried Modola, Shortlisted Photographer for the Climate Visuals Photography Award
WHAT IT SHOWS: Obgerel, 29, cries as she holds her three months-old baby daughter Suikhan, who suffers from respiratory complications in a paediatric emergency unit in one of the city's hospitals in the capital, January 21, 2019. She explains that she had taken her daughter to the hospital the day before and then when she arrived the baby could hardly breathe. An ever-increasing number of children are suffering from respiratory related illnesses, stretching health infrastructures to the limit in Ulaanbaatar.
In winter in Ulaanbaatar, children are literally choking as the city becomes the most polluted capital in the world, as over 200,000 households burn raw coal to keep warm – blanketing the city in a deadly haze of toxic fumes.
The capital has among the world's highest peaks of PM2.5 – the ultra fine carcinogens particles that can bypass the nose and throat and penetrate deep into the lungs. For children, these particles can be particularly harmful. Unicef Mongolia has warned of a looming “child health crisis” linked to the high pollution levels in the winter months.
Preliminary data suggests a 2.5-fold increase in fetal mortality rates between summer and winter and a near-perfect correlation between stillbirths and air toxicity.