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Officials Determine Why Los Angeles Stinks

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Photo of dead fish at the Salton Sea in March 2011 by CandidTam via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
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A source for that foul, rotten egg odor that hovered over the Los Angeles area on Monday has been confirmed, and dead fish plus strong winds are indeed to blame.

As theorized, officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District found Tuesday that decaying fish in the Salton Sea were producing the stench that winds picked up and carried across the Southland.

The AQMD ruled out other sources, including landfills and oil refineries, as they zeroed in on the Salton Sea, where several rotting fish were one part of the puzzle.

Air samples gathered "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," according to the AQMD.

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However, the fish alone weren't enough to make the air stinky from the Inland Empire all the way out to Ventura County. A powerful storm in the area is what pushed the smell into local air. Andrew Schlange, general manager of the Salton Sea Authority said "the storm upset an anaerobic—or oxygen-deprived—lower layer of the sea, where organic material lays decomposing, releasing the noxious hydrogen sulfide gas, with its distinct rotten egg smell," according to L.A. Now.

Although the AQMD took about 235 complaint calls between Monday morning and Tuesday morning, the stench has mostly disappeared. The AQMD adds: "While hydrogen sulfide concentrations at the Salton Sea yesterday were higher than normal, they were not high enough to cause irreversible harm to human health."