What's to Blame for the Mystery Odor in SoCal
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
CREATED Sep. 12, 2012
SALTON SEA--The source of the stench that caused a stink here in Southern California and the Coachella Valley has been solved.
The Air Quality Management District is confirming what many valley residents already suspected--the Salton Sea is guilty for this weeks smelly situation.
After receiving hundreds of calls from concerned residents across Southern California, the Air Quality Management District launched a full-on investigation. What could possibly be responsible for the strange egg-like smell reaching all the way to the Los Angeles basin? It turns out the Salton Sea is to blame, after all.
The cause of the stench is simple. Every year the algae bloom in the Salton Sea sucks the oxygen out of the water, kills the fish and then the algae itself decomposes releasing hydrogen sulfide, or the yucky gaseous odor many describe as rotten eggs and sulfur.
"The smell was horrible. It was uncomfortable to be outside," said Palm Desert Resident, Jill Richardson.
The uncomfortable stench is usually bothersome, but bearable. The difference this time around was the powerful storm that ripped through the desert earlier this week, stirring the decomposing matter at the bottom of the Salton Sea.
"The rotten egg smell at the end of summer, beginning of fall in the Coachella Valley is an annual occurrence, but for it to reach the other side of the pass into San Diego and Los Angeles is pretty unusual," said Peter Siminski, Director of Conservation and Education at The Living Desert.
It's so unusual for the Salton Sea smell to reach that far, it prompted the AQMD to test the air. They found the highest levels of hydrogen sulfide on the northwest end of the Salton Sea. Levels there were five times greater than the state standard for experiencing temporary health problems like nausea and headaches.
In a statement from Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack she said she's "writing a letter to all relevant agencies strongly urging them to work together on a solution to the problems facing the Salton Sea before the situation becomes irreversible and the strong odors, among other things, become an ongoing nuisance and potential long-term health threat."
The same algae bloom and subsequent fish die-off is sure to happen in years to come, but officials insist while immediate levels were above normal after this weeks storm, there's no cause for concern about long-term or permanent health risks from the stench.