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"Like breathing from the exhaust pipe"

13.09.2014 - 14:15
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Gas emissions from the Holuhraun lava eruption have in recent days repeatedly caused dangerous peaks in sulfur dioxide pollution in Eastern Iceland. The Icelandic Met Office has issued a pollution warning for today and tomorrow. Inhabitants have felt burning sensation and discomfort.

Last night, unprecedented pollution levels were measured in Reydarfjordur, one of the town and villages on Iceland´s east coast. Around 23.00 PM, the sulfur dioxide reached 4000 micrograms/m³ (1526 ppm), but subsided rapidly after that. Inhabitants were advised to stay indoors, close windows and heat their homes to keep the pollution out. High levels were also recorded in other towns nearby, such as Neskaupstadur and Egilsstadir. 

The incident last night in Reydarfjordur is at least the second time in recent days when a sulfur dioxide pollution has reached hazardous levels. Two days ago, sulfur dioxide was measured to be 2600 micrograms/m³, which was then a record. The pollution was described as a cloud, sweeping over the village. "This felt like standing behind a lorry, breathing the exhaust straight from the engine," said an inhabitant, according to the Environment Agency of Iceland.

Today, the IMO predicts that high concentration of sulfur dioxide could be found in the the Northeast and in the Myvatn area tomorrow. 

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This story, by the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV), was updated on 13. September 2014, at 14.15 GMT.

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