The government of Crimea evacuated thousands of children from their schools in the town of Armyansk on Tuesday after high levels of sulfur dioxide in the air raised pollution concerns.
Russian-backed Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said the concentration of the toxic gas in the air exceeded standard levels during monitoring carried out by local agencies.
Speaking at a news conference in Armyansk, Aksyonov said a local factory that produces titanium dioxide pigment, which is used in food coloring and paint, would temporarily close for two weeks. Aksyonov did not confirm whether the high levels of sulfur dioxide in the air were linked to the factory's operations.
Residents have been complaining about foul smells and a rust-colored sticky substance on surfaces since August 23, Aksyonov said.
Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula, was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.