Porter Ranch residents and their pets continued to experience health affects from a four-month old gas leak near their homes, even days before the breached well was controlled, according to results from the latest Los Angeles County health department report.
Reports of symptoms felt to be related to the gas leak continued to be reported through January and into early February, and the profile of symptoms remains similar to earlier results,” according to the report, released by health officials Sunday.
The results are based on expanded air monitoring by the California Air Resources Board and the Southern California Air Quality Management District. Health officials revealed some details about the effects of the gas leak on pets based on reports by local veterinarians. Nine dogs and three cats showed clinical lethargy, skin irritations, and respiratory problems, health officials said. One family pet was euthanized.
In addition, three wild birds were found dead in the area but there was no conclusive reasons given as to the cause of death.
“All three birds had findings in their lungs associated with acute heart and lung failure, the cause of which remains undetermined,” according to the report. “Based on the non-specific changes in the lungs, the laboratory concluded it is not possible to confirm or rule out an inhalant toxin as cause of death of these birds.”
Residents also continued to report illnesses. A complaint line operated by the public health department received an additional 113 calls since Feb. 2.
A total of 713 people had reported illnesses with the majority experiencing headaches, followed by nausea and vomiting, and nosebleeds. Of those who called, 13 percent reported seeking medical care from a physician, emergency department or urgent care facility.
Natural gas began leaking from one of 115 aged wells in October. Operated by SoCalGas, the wells and the storage facility sit high up in Aliso Canyon, above residents who live in Porter Ranch. One day after the gas leak, residents began calling in complaints to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. There were reports of headaches, nosebleeds and vomiting. At least 6,000 residents relocated. Two local elementary schools were affected, with nearly 2,000 schoolchildren and staff moved to other schools.
The leak was controlled on Feb. 11 and capped last Thursday. A report released last week by the public health department found more than 50 different chemicals and metals were detected after natural gas began to leak from an aged well, but none reached levels of concern.
Health officials said that air monitoring results continue to show that levels of methane and benzene from various locations are at lower levels than immediately after the start of the leak “and in all cases remain below health protection limits.”
They also have said they will continue examining the results of air monitoring but also said they do not believe there will be long term health impacts.
“Data provided in this report includes only limited information following the control of the well on February 11, 2016,” according to the report. “It will be important in the weeks ahead to monitor changes in results from air sampling to confirm that the air quality in the communities surrounding the Aliso Canyon facility to return to levels comparable with the rest of the Los Angeles Basin.”
By Susan Abram, Los Angeles Daily News
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