On July 20, 2012 members of the Arvin Bucket Brigade identified a horrific odor near Green Valley Cold Storage and captured an air sample with the air monitoring "Bucket." The results show an alarming level of hydrogen sulfide, a potentially deadly gas often associated with a rotten egg odor.
Arvin residents and community leaders are determined to find out what is in the air that they are breathing. "We know odors can be associated with a chemical presence and it always smells so bad." said Byanka Santoyo from the Committee for a Better Arvin. "Many families live just across the street and with these odors, I hate to imagine what they could be being exposed too."
According to expert, Dr. Mark Chernaik, long-term exposure to hydrogen sulfide is associated with an elevated incidence of respiratory infections, irritation of the eye and nose, cough, breathlessness, nausea, headache, and mental symptoms, including depression.
"The level of hydrogen sulfide in the air sample taken on July 20th at 11227 South Comanche Road Arvin, CA was 54 µg/m3.
This level is above the California OEHHA acute reference exposure level for hydrogen sulfide of 42 µg/m3 for preventing headache, nausea, and physiological responses to odors. Any persons in the vicinity of this location on 20 July 2012 would have suffered a risk of headache, nausea, and physiological responses to odors. If this level of hydrogen sulfide at this location is representative of prevailing (long-term) ambient air quality, then persons residing at this location may suffer an elevated risk of effects on the respiratory system and olfactory mucosa."
"We know Arvin has some of the worst air quality in the country," said Sal Partida, President of the Committee for a Better Arvin. "But these results raise real and serious concerns about the impact of our poor air quality on our health and well-being."
Members of these groups have been trained by Global Community Monitor (GCM) to use the Bucket Brigade to gather data to document toxic air emissions.
"We've detected hydrogen sulfide in previous samples taken by the Arvin Bucket Brigade and have reported it to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. It's astonishing we're still picking up high levels of such a dangerous gas," claims Jessica Hendricks of Global Community Monitor.
The independent air testing program, known as the "Bucket Brigade," empowers pollution-affected residents to take scientifically credible samples using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved methods and laboratories. The Committee for a Better Arvin has been spearheading the Bucket Brigade efforts to fight for clean air, healthy communities and Environmental Justice.
Gustavo Aguirre, from the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment has attended the training, "The Bucket Brigade allows citizens to take air samples when and where they identify odors potentially associated with a chemical presence." claims Aguirre, "That's something many governmental agencies cannot do."