2,000 complaints reported over foul stench in Carson area, air quality officials say

Local news

The South Coast Air Quality Management District on Tuesday announced it has established a webpage to monitor the foul odor emanating from the Dominguez Channel that has sickened some residents and prompted numerous complaints.

To date, South Coast AQMD has responded to more than 2,000 odor complaints since the acrid scent was first reported on Oct. 3.

Most of the reports appear to have come from the Carson area, but the stench has also been observed in Gardena, Long Beach, Torrance, Wilmington and other parts of Los Angeles County, according to a map distributed by the Air Quality Management District.

Residents have described the pungent smell as something akin to rotten eggs, likely the result of elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) that continue to be recorded in the area. The colorless, odorous gas can cause symptoms including headaches and nausea, officials said.

On top of those, local residents have reported experiencing congestion, dizziness and sore throat, among other symptoms. Dozens lined up Monday to file claims over their illnesses.

The city says it has booked 700 hotel rooms to move affected people out of their homes, and that 150 air purifiers have been distributed to residences.

The stench has already been declared a “public nuisance” by the Carson City Council. And on Monday, Rep. Nanette Barragán — a Democrat whose 44th congressional district includes areas impacted by the smell — sought a state of emergency declaration from Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Air monitoring efforts are ongoing in the affected area, according to AQMD. These include utilizing technologies and strategies to provide instant readings in specific areas, as well as grabbing samples to be analyzed by a lab and monitoring which locations are the most impacted.

Results of recent handheld monitoring have indicated that, “Elevated levels of H2S were found along the Dominguez Channel, but fluctuated throughout the day,” the webpage states.

Officials believe the source of the odor event is natural decay of organic material, including vegetation and marine life, in the channel, according to Los Angeles County officials.

A number of agencies are involved in the response, including the Los Angels Fire Department, the L.A. County Department of Public Health and the county’s Department of Public Works.

In the meantime, L.A. County works staff last Friday began spraying a biodegradable, non-toxic deodorizer into the Dominguez Channel to mitigate the stench.

And this week, a dozen aeration devices are being installed this to inject tiny bubbles into the channel. That’s expected to increase the water’s dissolved oxygen levels over a period of three months, which should speed up the decomposition of any organic matter in the channel, according to officials.

Citizens are encouraged to continue to report foul odors to South Coast AQMD at 1-800-288-7664 or through the online complaint system here.

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