'The smell of death': residents of a California city have been suffering from a toxic stench for a month

The people of Carson, a city in Los Angeles County, California, were in a state of terror. An intolerable stench, dubbed the “smell of death,” comes from a nearby canal where decaying vegetation is said to be releasing jets of hydrogen sulphide gas. The Guardian writes about it.

'The smell of death': Californians have been suffering from a toxic stench for a month now

< p class = "wp-caption-text"> Photo: Shutterstock

Carson City Council has declared a local state of emergency, but frustrated residents understand that it will take a long time to solve a problem that is not only causes inconvenience, but also has a negative impact on human health.

“It's not just a smell. People suffer from headaches, respiratory problems and rashes ”, & # 8211; complains Ana Meni, a resident of Carson.

Lakesia Livingston suffers from health problems. When she walks in the evenings to fight high blood pressure, she returns home with severe headaches, fatigue, and sometimes nausea. She has lost her appetite and sleeps for 10 hours straight. Her symptoms worsened so much that Lakesia went to the doctor for a cure for nausea. The doctor said she would have to move if the symptoms persist.

The district is working to resolve the issue and says gas levels are starting to decline. They ventilate the canal known as the Dominguez Canal, inject oxygen into the water, and spray deodorant on the canal to reduce the odor.

By now, Carson and Los Angeles County have moved into hotel accommodations. rooms over 1300 residents. Meni said hundreds of other people fled the area at their own expense.

The woman says it took her a few days after she left Carson to realize how weakened her body was.

Meni is running for city council, and although elections are coming up, she describes the stench as “the smell of death” and a supply of “walking dead”.

“We are not given clear answers & # 8211; just reduce odor, & # 8211; she is upset. & # 8211; You might as well live next to a toxic landfill, and if you freeze it, the smell will disappear, but it will still be toxic. ”

Cleaning work

County officials say they were first notified of the foul odor emanating from the Dominguez Canal on October 7. The team found decaying material in the canal and deployed emergency services.

“Water sampling suggests that our efforts are paying off, & # 8211; said Mark Pestrella, director of public works for Los Angeles County. & # 8211; We are increasing volumes, achieving good results and seeing a downward trend in the hydrogen sulphide content that creates this smell. ”

However, it is still not entirely clear what causes the persistent stench. Inspectors are investigating the possibility that an earthquake in mid-September shook something from an oil refinery in the area or other industrial plant.

Meni got very angry when she heard that the city authorities blamed the smell only nature.

“I've lived here for 42 years, and everyone says: & # 8220; We've never encountered this & # 8221 ;. Please don't say that this is nature. It can't be ”, & # 8211; Ana Meni is convinced.

Hydrogen sulphide, known as sewer gas, is colorless, but pungent at low concentrations. It is extremely flammable and highly toxic, but Muntu David, a Los Angeles County health worker, assured residents that the levels humans breathe are too low to cause irreparable damage.

According to him, the Environmental Protection Agency has determined: to be at risk of irreversible health effects, a person must be exposed to about 27,000 parts per billion in an hour or 17,000 parts per billion for eight hours in a row.

“Although some average readings in the air over one hour in open space were sometimes as high as 7000 particles per billion, these levels were temporary and inconsistent, occurring mainly at night, & # 8211; he said. & # 8211; Over the course of the day, outdoor readings have been steadily declining and recently hovering around 1,000 parts per billion or less. ”

Why do people still get sick

But residents are still worried. The Los Angeles County Health Department recently recommended that residents avoid prolonged outdoor activities between 9:00 pm and 8:00 am and reduce outdoor exposure to strong odors. Schools in the area have been instructed to act on their own when choosing outdoor activities, and residents & # 8211; keep your pets indoors.

Carson is home to a predominantly non-white race, and residents feel the response to their crisis has not been as swift as other environmental issues in the area such as the recent oil spill at Huntington Beach, a prestigious beach area.

“I watch the spill in Huntington Beach because sometimes I walk there, & # 8211; Livingston says. & # 8211; Everything was decided in a week and a half. But this canal is not as big as the beach. So why didn't we get the resources we needed? ”

When asked about residents' complaints about inequitable distribution of resources, Curjon Lee, public affairs manager for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, responds that response measures were taken by several departments and began immediately after the first odor was reported.

“We are focusing on bacteria that digest organic material inside the canal,” & # 8211; Lee explained.

Meni says areas where people of other races live generally have minimal or no environmental policies. Lack of transparency and accountability left her with more questions than answers. “They assure us that the level is low, but our body says otherwise. Why are we still sick? “

She would like to go home, but decided to wait until the headaches stopped:” This is really scary and we don't know how long this nightmare will last. ” .