Complaints of Rotten Egg Smell in Goleta

Source: County of Santa Barbara

Following a few complaints in western Goleta of a “rotten egg” smell, or hydrogen sulfide (H2S), the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) and the County Public Health Department, Environmental Health Services Division (EHS) investigated to identify a cause and determine toxicity levels, if any.

Inspectors were able to identify a source in the Ellwood Canyon area where agricultural operations were underway. At the time of measurement, levels were well below toxicity levels and not measureable 15 feet downwind. 

Hydrogen sulfide is a gas that produces a sulfurous “rotten egg” odor at very low levels. This part of the coast is historically known for H2S odors, often times as a result of natural seeps, well drilling, agriculture irrigation and oil industry activities both onshore and off. 

If you experience a stronger odor than normal, call 911 immediately. If you smell sulfur and experience nausea, headaches, tingling or numbness in the lips or fingers, move uphill to fresh air, seek medical attention from your primary healthcare provider, or again, call 911 for immediate assistance. H2S is heavier than air so getting up hill will reduce exposure.

For 24/7 non-emergency assistance, the public can call County Dispatch at (805) 683-2724. If you smell sulfur and wish to file a nuisance complaint, contact APCD at or register complaints at (805) 961-8810. APCD inspectors are available to respond to complaints during normal business hours, excluding holidays.

Information regarding recorded H2S levels and wind conditions are available on the Air Pollution Control District website at  

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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