Contra Costa Health (CCH) recommends that anyone near the Crockett Wastewater Treatment Plant take steps to stay safe due to elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide in the air.
Air monitoring conducted near the plant by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) on Friday afternoon detected concentrations of the gas in levels high enough to affect the health of people exposed to it for long periods of time, including symptoms such as headaches, nausea and irritated eyes.
The presence of the gas is related to an ongoing operational issue at the plant, at 1801 Dowrelio Road, that has led to several recent complaints about strong odors in the community, which are being investigated by BAAQMD. Friday was the first day that detected levels of hydrogen sulfide were high enough to cause a public health concern.
While hydrogen sulfide commonly smells like rotten eggs, just smelling it is not necessarily an indicator that levels of the chemical in the air are high enough to pose a risk to health.
Hydrogen sulfide can be smelled at much lower levels. Concentration of the gas in the air may be higher during the afternoon, the warmest time of day.
People near the plant who are experiencing symptoms should consider leaving the area, if possible, or going inside and closing all windows and doors. Anyone with serious symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.
Carbon air filters, also known as activated charcoal air filters, may also prove effective indoors at reducing levels of hydrogen sulfide. Masks do not offer effective protection from exposure to hydrogen sulfide.
Contra Costa Health is monitoring the air in Crockett daily and will post updates at cchealth.org.