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In a California city, two months 'smelled of death': the authorities had a hard time finding a reason, and it is alarming

The California authorities have found out the cause of the "smell of death" in the city, reports TheGuardian.

Photo: Shutterstock

A fire at a cosmetics warehouse caused large quantities of chemicals to enter the canal, killing plants.

Since early October, residents of Carson, California, have been sick of the noxious odor emanating from Dominguez Strait, which has been compared to the "rotten egg" or "stench of death."

Now officials have identified the cause: a fire in a warehouse where beauty and health products were stored.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District, the agency tasked with investigating the stench, said on December 3 that a fire at a large warehouse that began on September 30 and lasted several days had spilled large quantities of chemicals into the 24-km canal.

This resulted in the death of the canal-dwelling plants, which in turn produced massive amounts of hydrogen sulfide, a flammable and colorless gas that can be harmful to human health.

The agency sent infringement notices to four companies connected to the warehouse.

The rancid odor was first reported on October 3, and by October 6, the air transport agency was receiving over 100 complaints per day.

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Residents of Carson, a city in Los Angeles County, complained of severe headaches, fatigue, and breathing problems as gas levels increased.

According to the air quality control department, hydrogen sulfide levels at one point reached nearly 7000 ppb, which is about 230 times higher than the government's exposure standard.

More than 3000 people have moved to hotels - at the county's expense - to treat symptoms of the disease, and 27000 air purifiers have been brought into their homes to reduce odors.

Even now, residents say the smell has not disappeared.

On a Facebook group created by residents, people continue to report issues.

For Ana Meni, a resident who has temporarily moved to a hotel, the trials are not over yet.

Since then, she has returned home and says that the smell is not as bad as it used to be, but she still suffers from headaches and throat irritation problems almost daily.

“OTC drugs don't work,” she says. “The only thing I have is to get out of the city. As soon as I do this, the headaches will go away. "

Meni says her sister has even more severe symptoms, with persistent nosebleeds prompting her to visit the emergency room several times since they returned home.

Mark Pestrella, Los Angeles County's director of public works, told the county's supervisory board that his department had spent about $ 54 million to clean up the canal, as well as hotel rooms and air purifiers for residents.

According to him, this amount could rise to $ 143 million if the cleanup lasts until March.

As for the companies whose products have caused plant extinction, last month Los Angeles County Councilor Rodrigo A. Castro-Silva sent a letter to his attorneys telling them that they must keep everything that could be considered proof if the county adopted legal measures against companies.

The letter said the September fire was triggered by illegally stored flammable materials, including hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.

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Eight residents have filed a class action lawsuit against the companies, claiming fire was the cause of the dangerous odor.

Meni says she is trying to be optimistic given the new actions by the authorities. Los Angeles County and the City of Carson believe the situation is over, but residents remain perplexed about the lingering odor and its long-term effects.

“I have no idea what is in the air, what we all still get sick from,” she says. "Everything was fine before the incident on the Dominguez Canal."

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