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Mystery Odor Triggers 250 Emergency Calls in Phoenix

Tue, 13 Mar 2012 11:10:36 EST

Last month, a strange garlic odor resulted in 250 emergency calls on the west side of Phoenix, Arizona.  Residents reported a strong smell of onion and garlic that blanketed a number of neighborhoods.  The strong smell caused some residents to complain of vomiting, headaches and irritation to the sinuses and nose.

Emergency responders believe the odors were caused by a propane storage facility purging a pipeline.  Propane is a three carbon alkane, which is normally found in a gaseous state, but can be compressed into a liquid.  An odorant, often ethanethiol or thiophene is added to propane so that it can be easily detected if a leak occurs.

Propane is heavier than air so if a leak or a system purge occurs, as appears to be the case in Phoenix, the gas will tend to settle in low lying areas.  This can cause irritations and at high enough levels the risk of an explosion or fire.
Mystery odors occur on a regular basis.  At times they are easy for professionals to identify.  Other times they can be a real challenge, requiring air sampling to help pinpoint the source of the odor.
One of the nation's leading laboratories for analyzing air samples to determine the source of a mystery odor is EMSL Analytical, Inc.  The company has access to the latest field sampling equipment, laboratory testing equipment and world renowned scientists.  'Fortunately, there were no serious injuries caused by the odor problem that resulted in so many people calling 911 in Phoenix,' reported Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President, Marketing at EMSL Analytical.  'When a visual inspection cannot determine the source, air sampling will often provide the answers and EMSL is ready to help at a moment's notice.'
To learn more about air testing for mystery odors or for indoor air quality (IAQ) services, please visit, call (800)220-3675 or email
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public.  The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies. 

Source: WebWire

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