Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Climate and Environment

Local Emergency Declared In Carson As Foul Odor Continues To Linger

An image of the Dominguez Gap wetlands shows a narrow body of water surrounded by green plant life
The Dominguez Gap in North Long Beach, which the Dominguez Channel feeds into.
(Sharon McNary
LAist )
Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

The City of Carson has declared a local emergency in an effort to get more resources from the state and county to stop the noxious scent that is reportedly making residents of the area feel ill.

The smell, which is centered around the Dominguez Channel, has improved slightly since it was first reported several weeks ago. Officials say they've made some progress in reducing the hydrogen sulfide cited as the cause.

“Our readings show that we're moving it down, but I know that it continues to occur at a level that is a nuisance to the community,” said L.A. County Public Works Director Mark Pestrella.

Workers began using oxygen bubbler and spraying a natural water-based deodorizer two weeks ago to stop the plant digestion that’s causing the stench, as well as shining lights at night to kill bacteria.

Support for LAist comes from

Public Works officials may also remove decomposed vegetation and other pollutants that have built up in the channel, but according to Pestrella, that process is time-consuming and requires advance planning.

Pestrella did not comment on a lawsuit filed by Carson residents last Thursday, alleging debris from a nearby warehouse fire caused the smell. He said Public Works is investigating whether chemicals from other sources contributed to the smell, but wouldn't specify these locations.

Last week, the odor prompted L.A. County Public Health officials to recommend that residents avoid prolonged outdoor activity between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. Air quality officials determined that while the odor does exceed state nuisance levels, it is not imminently dangerous.

The foul smell has been traced to vegetation in the Dominguez Channel. Without oxygen, the dense vegetation decomposes and emits hydrogen sulfide, which many residents liken to the smell of rotten eggs.

Last week, L.A. County Supervisors unanimously approved a motion to create a relief program for residents affected by the stench.

Those eligible must:

  • Live in Carson, West Carson, or the surrounding vicinity
  • Be experiencing odors inside your home
  • Be experiencing one or more of the following symptoms as a result of the odors emanating from the Dominguez Channel: headaches and irritation in the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.

That county is offering three reimbursement options:

Option 1: For homes with heating and air conditioning systems, the County will reimburse households for filter inserts for those systems that are HEPA rated with activated carbon or other filters recommended by the County Department of Public Health. The limit of reimbursement will be $60 per unit per household.

Option 2: The County will reimburse households for air purifiers units if they don't already have them. The limit of reimbursement is
$400 per household for homes 1,000 square feet or smaller and a $800 per household for homes above 1,000 square feet.

Option 3: The County will reimburse the household for one hotel room in Los Angeles County, up to $182 per day, and hotel self-parking for one vehicle per day. Meals, groceries, and miscellaneous expenses will also be reimbursed at the rate of $66 per day for each person currently residing full time in the household who have been relocated to the hotel.

The relief program is retroactively effective as of Oct. 4.

Pestrella urged people to file a reimbursement claim or call 2-1-1 if they need more help.

Support for LAist comes from

"We'd like you to advise as to whether or not you can afford the reimbursement program or if in fact, you need us to actually deliver mitigation to you directly," he said.

What questions do you have about Southern California?

Updated October 25, 2021 at 11:54 AM PDT
This story was updated to reflect the City of Carson declaring a national emergency.