What’s that foul smell covering the Southland? (updated)

**UPDATED** The South Coast Air Quality Management District continues in its effort to locate the source of the smell. An update from their website is pasted below the story.

The source of a pungent smell plaguing the Southland communities is likely caused by a mix of hot air and pollutants trapped in the atmosphere, according to Claremont fire officials.

Investigation continues into the rotten-egg odor that has been reported in communities throughout Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Fire officials maintain that there is no specific hazard associated with the smell.

Claremont firefighters contend that the odor rests in an inversion layer caused by the rising temperatures. An inversion takes place when a layer of warmer air traps cooler air below it, according to information provided by the Weather Channel blog. As a result, pollutants like smoke or smog are stopped from rising higher into the atmosphere.

“The air doesn’t have anywhere to escape,” explained Bryan Mcilrevey, firefighter and paramedic with Claremont Fire Station 101.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District, whose offices are closed today. A report on the SCAQMD’s website attributes sulfur smell to the decaying Salton Sea. The air condition is typically experienced in the Coachella Valley during fall and winter.

The SCAQMD determined 5 factors causing the decay of the Salton Seas. They are: “1) the high salinity of the sea, which is caused by the salt influx from irrigation runoff (especially Selenium, a Sulfur-like element); 2) The high evaporation rate; 3) lack of sea outlet; 4) Inflow of untreated water from Mexico through the New River; and 5) Algae decomposition after a ‘planktonic boom.’”

More from the SCAQMD’s findings can be found at www.aqmd.gov/complain/saltonseaodor.html.

Without a formal statement from the SCAQMD, the cause of the odor is still anyone’s guess. However, Mr. Mcilrevey expects the smell should begin to dissipate as the day progresses and the onshore wind begins to pick up.

“The wind should blow the smell out,” he said.

—Beth Hartnett


From SCAQMD website:

September 10, 2012

Field inspectors with the South Coast Air Quality Management District are in the field today investigating possible causes of widespread sulfur odors.  

Since around midnight last night, AQMD has received more than 100 calls reporting a strong, foul rotten egg/sulfur odor. Residents have complained from a very wide area including the Inland Empire and much of the Los Angeles Basin.  

Fish kills, algae blooms and other biologic conditions in lakes can cause strong odors.  Industrial facilities such as wastewater plants also can cause sulfur odors. At this time AQMD hasn’t confirmed any source as the cause of the widespread odor.  

AQMD will issue updated information later in the day if more information is available.  

AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.


Submit a Comment

Share This