11:54 GMT26 January 2020
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    The tainted snow is said to pose no risk to local residents’ health, but authorities have decided to play it safe and will deploy a mobile laboratory to measure local air quality.

    Residents of Chelyabinsk, a Russian city east of the Ural Mountains about 1,500 km east of Moscow, have reported spotting unusual greenish-greyish snow blanketing an area of field and forest on the outskirts of the city.

    Footage of the affected area appeared on social media, showing that an area of the ground had been covered by a green-tinged snow, with the area around maintaining its ordinary white snow cover.

    The unusual snow led to multiple inquiries from concerned residents to local authorities. Officials from the region’s ecology watchdog explained that the green snow is believed to have been caused by dust blown out of a nearby granite quarry. The phenomenon was said not to pose any threat to local residents.

    Just to be sure, authorities plan to deploy a mobile ecological monitoring laboratory in the affected area. In the meantime, the quarry will be examined to determine what caused the dust to be spewed onto the field, and fined if violations of safety or ecological regulations are found.

    Social media users didn’t know what to make of the phenomenon, with some jokingly suggesting it was a deliberate effort to stave off depression among local residents amid a long winter, while others theorised that it could be space dust, seaweed, or even an optical illusion. Others jokingly inquired about whether the snow had magical healing properties.

    Chelyabinsk is a major Russian industrial city with a population of over 1.1 million people. During the Soviet period, the city became heavily industrialised, and remains home to many enterprises engaged in the production of ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, machine goods and equipment, electronics and goods for the electrical power industry.

    The city became world famous in February 2013, when a super bolide meteor was spotted cruising over the area before exploding about 30 km above the atmosphere, with the blast wave causing widespread damage. The remnants of the space rock have since been recovered, with a large chunk of it on display at a local museum.

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