Angels Camp, CA…The privately owned Utica Mine located in Angels Camp has been identified as the source of a local hydrogen sulfide release. The City of Angels Camp and other partners conducted air and water sampling in the area. Findings show a concentration ranging from 2-3 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide in the air at the entrance of the mine. Surrounding waterways are being monitored to ensure environmental and public safety.
Hydrogen sulfide is a flammable, colorless gas known for its pungent “rotten egg” smell. Although people are known to smell the gas at levels of 0.0005 parts per billion to 0.3 parts per million, it takes much higher levels to pose an immediate threat to human health.
People can be exposed to hydrogen sulfide by living or working near contaminated water ways or breathing contaminated air. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide may cause irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat and possible respiratory and nervous system complications. Possible signs and symptoms of prolonged exposure can include:
Difficulty breathing in people with asthma
While the hydrogen sulfide does not pose any immediate health threats, it is recommended that individuals stay away from the area surrounding Utica Mine and Angels Creek while hydrogen sulfide is present. Calaveras County Public Health Officer, Dr. Rene Ramirez states, “At this time, the hydrogen sulfide gas concentrations found at the Utica Mine are at mildly elevated levels. Prolonged exposure may cause a range of mild symptoms which may be compounded in sensitive individuals, those with underlying health issues or respiratory problems, young children or elderly adults. Those who live or work near the area should be cautious about the possible signs and symptoms that hydrogen sulfide exposure can cause.” Dr. Ramirez adds, “The best way to avoid harm is to keep clear of the Utica Mine entrance and Angels Creek while the hydrogen sulfide is detected.” Signage is posted at Angels Creek indicating that it will be closed until further notice.
Personal protective equipment is highly recommended for anyone going near the exposure site. Chemical safety goggles, a face shield, a full face respirator, and protective clothing are preferred. Fit testing is highly recommended for respirators.
Frequent water and air monitoring will be taking over the place to ensure that hydrogen sulfide concentrations do not rise to dangerous levels.
For more information regarding hydrogen sulfide, please visit CDC or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
If you are experiencing symptoms related to hydrogen sulfide exposure, contact your primary care provider. Call 9-1-1 for emergencies.
For questions and concerns regarding environmental issues, please contact Calaveras County Environmental Health at 209-754-6399.