The stench emanating from the Dominguez Channel that began fouling the air in Carson and neighboring communities about a week ago has been officially labeled a public nuisance, but it remained unclear Tuesday if anything can be done to eliminate the odor, or if residents will have to wait for organic material rotting in the channel to fully decay.
The Carson City Council on Monday unanimously approved a resolution declaring the foul odor a “public nuisance,” but the move may mean little to residents complaining that the noxious rotting-egg-like stench was leading to problems such as headaches or other health maladies.
The county departments of public health and public works were continuing to investigate and explore possible solutions, along with the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Authorities have confirmed elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide in the air, but according to the AQMD, “monitoring data does not show elevated levels of volatile organic compounds or other air toxic pollutants typically associated with petroleum operations such as oil pipes, refineries, etc.”
On Friday, Carson Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes wrote on Facebook that the cause of the odor had been identified as “a hydrogen sulfide leaking pipeline,” but by Sunday, she wrote that the leaking-pipeline theory “has been ruled out,” saying investigators again were focusing on “organic waste material drying out after being exposed during low tide.”
According to county officials, the source of the hydrogen sulfide and resulting smell “is believed to be the natural decay of organic material, vegetation and marine life, at the bottom and sides of the Dominguez Channel.”
Authorities said they are working to determine if there is any way of reducing the order, or at least determining how long the stench will continue.
In the meantime, officials urged residents to keep their doors and windows closed to prevent the stench from entering homes, and consider replacing air filters with stronger, activated-carbon HEPA filters to help clean the indoor air.
“Residents experiencing persistent, worrisome or worsening symptoms from the odors are encouraged to contact their health care providers, especially if they have any chronic health conditions,” according to a Monday statement from the county Department of Public Health. “Residents should also ensure that they have adequate supplies of their medications, especially if they have heart or lung conditions. In addition, Public Health recommends temporarily leaving the area where odors are present to alleviate health impacts.”
Health officials also said schools in the area should exercise discretion regarding outdoor student activities.