An aerial view of Taranto's steelworks in April 2013. Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images Taranto, a southern Italian city, has long stood in the shadow of a vast, polluting steel mill. The factory routinely blows pollutants over the city, forcing residents to seal themselves in their homes. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a new irony, bringing instructions to keep windows open. Residents feel their fight against the virus is compromised by their struggle with pollution. Campaigners hope that increased awareness of health risks nationwide may hasten a solution to their problems. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The coronavirus pandemic has brought painful changes all over the world — and in one Italian city, it has brought a dire situation into even sharper focus.Taranto, on the Ionian coast of Italy's picturesque Puglia region, is home to Europe's largest steel factory, which spews pollutants and has been associated with heightened rates of sickness in the area.The pandemic has brought a new and painful irony to Taranto — pitting the coronavirus carried by humans inside with the pollutants often blown in from outside.On so-called "wind days," Taranto residents are urged to shut the windows to block pollutants blown over from the Taranto steelworks, known widely as the Ex-Ilva plant after its old owners.At the same time, schools and offices are told to keep their windows open whenever possible to promote air circulation and reduce the risk of virus transmission.


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