Did you smell ‘bad eggs’ in the air?

Walking to the shops in Lightwater yesterday, I noticed an odd smell in the air. Unable to detect its source, I let it pass. Not so for 20 people who phoned Surrey Police.

Our council head of environmental health has been involved in a teleconference with other bodies about the cause of the smell, and its potential danger to the public. There’s no danger apparently, as this media statement from the Health Protection Agency on Surrey Heath website says,

HPAMedia Statement January 22 2013

The smell drifting over Southern England today poses no risk to public health. The odour, which is similar to rotten eggs, has been noticed by people mainly in Kent, East and West Sussex and some parts of Surrey.

It is caused by a particularly smelly chemical that is added to odourless natural gas to give that its characteristic smell.

The chemical leaked from a factory in Rouen, France yesterday and has blown across the Channel overnight. It is not toxic and has also been diluted before entering the air over England, so people should be reassured it will cause no harm. It is an unpleasant odour which may cause some people to feel slightly nauseous but it will dispel naturally.

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