Residents of a central Bosnian town have been told to not to go outside because of a dangerously high level of air pollution.
The sulphur dioxide in Zenica is three times above the European Union limit.
Unusually low winds are being blamed for not dispersing the gas, and companies operating in the area have been told to cut down their emissions.
Zenica city hall official Muhamed Pasic reported the findings: “For three days in a row, the readings at our air quality measurement station have been showing the concentration of sulphur dioxide in the air is 400 micrograms per cubic metre,” he said.
Zenica officials claim steel company ArcelorMittal is the “greatest polluter” in the industrial town.
Samir Lemes from Eco Forum Zenica said ArcelorMittal had only met just above a fifth of its 100 million US dollar contractual obligation for protecting the environment, due by 2010.
Sulphur dioxide is produced by burning coal which happens at many of the town’s plants. Breathing it in is bad for respiratory health – aggravating asthma and sometimes causing bronchitis.