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Rotten Egg Smell Caused By Salton Sea, Officials Confirm

Tuesday's AQMD statement said a strong thunderstorm and 50 mph winds out the southeast that developed over the Salton Sea Sunday evening pushed odors across the Southland.

The Salton Sea is the likely source of

“We now have solid evidence that clearly points to the Salton Sea as the source of a very large and unusual odor event,” Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said Tuesday.

The agency reported that since the early morning hours of Monday, AQMD received about 235 complaints of sulfur- and rotten-egg type odors.

“Almost all calls were received by 5:30 p.m. on Monday, with only a dozen or so received overnight and Tuesday morning,” according to an AQMD statement.

Tuesday's AQMD statement said a strong thunderstorm and 50 mph winds out the southeast that developed over the Salton Sea Sunday evening pushed odors to the northwest -– across the Coachella Valley, through the Banning Pass and across the Los Angeles Basin. Since Monday, an onshore breeze from the west appears to have kept the odor at bay, according to the agency's statement.

AQMD technicians took numerous air samples in Riverside and San Bernardino counties Monday, while AQMD field inspectors conducted odor surveillance in the Coachella Valley and across the agency’s four-county jurisdiction, the statement read.

Tuesday’s analysis of the air samples “showed a clear progression of hydrogen sulfide levels, with the highest concentrations found at the Salton Sea and decreasing concentrations found as the distance increased from the sea,” the statement read.

Hydrogen sulfide, a product of organic decay -- such as that occurring in the Salton Sea -- has an unmistakable rotten-egg odor, according to the agency.

The progression, or gradient, points to the Salton Sea as the source of the odor, Wallerstein said.

AQMD inspectors visited other potential odor sources, such as landfills and oil refineries, but ruled them out.

Scientists theorized that strong winds pushed surface waters aside and allowed water from the bottom of the shallow sea -- rich with decaying and odorous bacteria -- to rise to the surface, the statement read.

While hydrogen sulfide concentrations at the Salton Sea Monday were higher than normal, they were not high enough to cause irreversible harm to human health, AQMD officials said.

Balance September 12, 2012 at 06:17 AM
So the harm to human health caused by this concentration of hydrogen sulfide is reversible? I wasn't aware that my health had been harmed. Is there anything I can do to help the reversal process?
Lillian Honorah Lavelle September 12, 2012 at 02:52 PM
I'm not buying it. That's way to far away and it spread way to far.
That Temecula Guy September 12, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Are you going to put on your foil hat? Wait, maybe it is our government conducting experiments on us. Wait, no, it's a conspiracy to make us want to buy more eggs. Go test the air yourself, or go swim in the Salton Sea and taste test the water for us. I await your results. Go!
That Temecula Guy September 12, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Ok, ok, I suppose there's a chance that the San Andreas actually cracked open a bit and the government is actually hiding the fact that unusually large amounts of H2S were released from an underground source, and a super volcano is about to blast us all. Why cause widespread panic? If the government cover-up of the super volcano works, it would solve a part of the budget problems. California could eliminate the majority of its welfare leeches by keeping quiet about it and just letting nature take its course. Lillian, do you have a spare foil hat to spare? Bigfoot just grabbed mine and took off.
Mike Henson September 12, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Must. Buy. Eggs. I can feel the government taking over my mind.
Ronnie Nadeau September 12, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Can the winds really move a smell? I think the neighbors dog farted and sticking to it.
Chip September 12, 2012 at 08:58 PM
salton sea, tsss, more like pepper sea or sumthin
Fawn September 12, 2012 at 11:51 PM
I have lived in SD county for 20+ years and have gone by the Salton Sea during heavy storms, winds, etc., and not once have I ever smelled sulfur! It stinks there, yes, but it was much too strong in the IE to be from the Salton Sea--It also stretched to AZ and TX, so I really do not believe this--
Net September 13, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Aliens farted.
Constant Comment September 13, 2012 at 01:22 AM
"Can winds really move a smell?" YES! Ask Marfa every time she stands up....}~0
julie dawson September 13, 2012 at 01:34 AM
When one of these labs that finally lets out one of the viruses their creating in the name of necessity for vaccines, in case we have an out break of the very virus their creating, all hell will break loose. This type of work is being done behind glass doors at university's when it should be done in top secured bio labs. When some monkey or rat pox is unleashed, people like Mike will be sitting their drooling and seizing like a fool. Not everything is a conspiracy, like the fact this type of work is being done in unsecured labs which is a hazard to all, and that is a fact. This comment is off subject, this smell has nothing to do with a virus, but we are breathing something not healthy. I get tired of idiots who have no facts about anything that accuse others of thinking like a conspirators. At least others are thinking and reading and know a fact or two, the others are just dopes brainwashed by the main stream media and they stick out like the idiots they are.
Anon September 13, 2012 at 02:47 AM
It was an awful smell. I thought a sewer pipe had burst. I was seeing dollar signs!
Constant Comment September 13, 2012 at 08:54 PM
I guess seeing dollar signs is better than seeing signs of the apocalypse! }~)

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