SAN DIEGO — Have you smelled a pungent odor near the the Tijuana River Valley?
On Wednesday, the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District (SDAPCD) announced new sensors are being installed in the surrounding community amid concerns from nearby residents.
These so-called odor monitors will detect impacts from sewage spills into the Tijuana River.
Referred to as AQMesh, SDAPCD says the wireless sensors will “measure air quality by quantifying the levels of various compounds that are being emitted into the ambient air.”
To break it down further, the sensors will measure hydrogen sulfide (H2S), sulfur dioxide (SO2), total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
According to SDAPCD, all these compounds contribute to poor air quality.
Officials say the gasses that are of most concern in the Tijuana River Valley are sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, which is the main culprit that causes the pungent odor associated with sewage and wastewater.
Sulfur dioxide typically does not produce odor at ambient levels but can provide additional information on hydrogen sulfide levels, SDAPCD explained.
Will these sensors help with the smell? Not necessarily as SDAPCD doesn’t have jurisdiction over water quality.
Despite this, officials says the data collected will help them in determining if the issue is becoming worse or being improved through measures being implemented by the appropriate jurisdictions.
“The persistent sewage issue in the Tijuana River Valley has been a long-standing concern, affecting our southern county beaches and the air our community breathes,” said Nora Vargas, chairwoman of the County of San Diego. “The deployment of these sensors will help gather crucial data on its impact on our residents’ air quality, ensuring that clean air is accessible to all, regardless of their zip code.”
More information about SDAPCD’s air quality monitoring program can be found here.
SDAPCD says these compounds pose minimal health risks in low quantities, though that can change if they exist in higher quantities.
According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, exposure to these compounds in high quantities can cause dizziness, headaches, insomnia, nausea, eye irritation, asthma, and other health issues.
This makes the collection of this data crucial, according to SDAPCD. Health risks aside, the ambient odors are reported to be contributing to the diminished quality of life that residents are experiencing.