The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District is installing sensors near the Tijuana River Valley following residents reporting odor from sewage spills into the river, it was announced today.
The wireless AQMesh sensors measure air quality by quantifying the levels of various compounds that are being emitted into the ambient air, including hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, total volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
“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 Board of Supervisors and member of the SDAPCD Governing Board. “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.”
These sensors will measure the quantities of these compounds that are being emitted into the air — all of which contribute to poor air quality, but the ones of most concern in the Tijuana River Valley are sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.
Hydrogen sulfide 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, a statement from the district reads.
In low quantities these compounds pose minimal health risks but when they exist in higher quantities, they can cause health impacts. According to the 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.
SDAPCD doesn’t have jurisdiction over water quality, the data collected will “aid in determining if the issue is becoming worse or being improved through measures being implemented by the appropriate jurisdictions,” the district statement reads.