Environmental investigators confirm an 'unusual odor' smelled in Tampa earlier Thursday was caused by the release of the chemical Paladin.
This chemical pesticide was used in eastern Hillsborough County by strawberry growers. They said Paladin contains dimethyl disulfide.
At a 1 p.m. press conference, Tampa Fire Chief Tom Forward said they couldn't confirm what was causing the smell but confirmed it several hours later.
Residents said they noticed an odor in Tampa Thursday morning, and so officials investigated the odor.
Gina Macaruso, who works in Harbour Island, said the smell inside her office was strong for more than a half an hour.
“Everybody was coming into the office. They were first asking, ‘Do you smell that smell?’ And we were all confirming something was in the area and then everyone was starting to talk about (having headaches)."
Paladin was being used by strawberry farmers to treat the soil. In evaporated form though, Paladin is heavier than air. Add in a damp, breezy morning with a temperature inversion like Thursday and the smell can carry for miles.
"It follows the contours of the land and it will flow to the lowest possible point, apparently that happened to be in downtown Tampa this morning,” said Ted Campbell, FL Strawberry Growers Assoc.
Planting season runs through mid-October.
Fire rescue used its Alert Tampa system to notify residents of the foul smell. It also sent notifications about the investigation throughout the day.
Alert Tampa notifications are free and residents who have not yet signed up for this service can do so at www.tampagov.net/alerttampa.