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Mysterious Smell Has Been Plaguing Whole County for Months, And No One Knows Where It’s Coming From


Ever since late last year, people in various parts of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, have been reporting a foul, sulfur-like smell that comes and goes, seemingly at random. So far no one has been able to pinpoint its source or its nature.

It all started in October of 2019, when a strong odor was reported nearby Aston, Pennsylvania. In November, people in Ridley Township alerted authorities about that same smell on Veterans Day. Then in December several 911 calls were made from Brookhaven about a strong smell in the air that some likened to that of petroleum or sulfur. Several townships reported the mysterious odor in January as well, and earlier this week it made its presence felt in Glenolden as well. Experts are still struggling to find out what’s causing the smell, but they are having a tough time figuring out how it can travel around the 200-square-mile Delaware County, and how it disappears as suddenly as it arrives.

“A lot of the folks who are working on this have never seen anything quite like it,” Virginia Cain, community relations coordinator for the state DEP, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Something that comes and goes, seemingly at random. Usually with a case like this, we’d normally get repeated complaints from the same group of people. But seeing it in such a widespread area makes you wonder: Is it coming from a facility? Or something that’s moving?”

No one seems to know where the smell could be coming from; at one point, the people of Norwood, a borough with a population of under 6,000, worried that it could be coming from their landfill, but that is unlikely considering that the smell is reportedly a petroleum/sulfur-like, and has been reported all over Delaware County.


Authorities have been having problems with their investigations primarily due to how fast the mysterious smell comes and goes.

“When we get on scene it only lasts a short period of time,” Brookhaven Fire Chief Rob Montella told NBC Philadelphia. “By the time we get our monitors out it usually dissipates in 10 to 15 minutes.”

“The challenge we’re up against when you’re on the ground level is, the wind can be blowing in different directions, depending on where you are,” Tim Boyce, director of emergency services for Delaware County, confirmed. “By the time someone gets to where the report came from, it might not smell anymore.”


Several oil and gas pipelines are located in Delaware County, but the fact that the smell has been reported over such long distances, makes it unlikely that a single leak could be the cause. An investigation is still ongoing, but several months after the smell was originally reported, no one has any solid leads.

“No one has been able to figure out where it’s coming from,” State Rep. Leanne Krueger (D-161) told NBC Philadelphia.

This story is somewhat reminiscent of the Windsor Hum, the mysterious sound that has been plaguing the Canadian city of Windsor for several years, only instead of sound, it’s smell.

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