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Foul air traced to a Pudong refinery

THE stinky air that bothered some people in the city's Pudong New Area, Yangpu and Hongkou districts yesterday is not harmful, the municipal government assured in an statement today.

The foul air leaked from an oil refinery belonging to Shanghai Gaoqiao Petrochemical Co in Pudong's Waigaoqiao area and was found to contain ethanethiol, according to the official statement.

The leaked ethanethiol soon evaporated into the air around 4pm yesterday, but the statement did not mention what caused the leak and whether the problem has been solved. An investigation is now under way.

A source with the Shanghai Work Safety Administration told Shanghai Daily that the refinery facilities were undergoing an annual check. Normally remnant substances are poured out before the vessels can be cleaned. He estimated that ethanethiol might have been exposed directly to the air during the cleaning process.

Ethanethiol has a repellent smell, redolent of leek or onion. It can cause headache, nausea, breathing difficulty and vomit depending on how much one inhales or one's skin is exposed.


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