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Substance found at old Sparrows Point steel mill could be cause of mothball odor

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Posted at 8:58 PM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 08:13:55-04

SPARROWS POINT, Md. — Officials with Tradepoint Atlantic believe they have found the cause of a strange mothball like smell that concerned some citizens in Edgemere last weekend.

Samples taken from an excavation site near the old Sparrows Point steel mill showed concentrations of Naphthalene, which officials say could have caused the odor.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine National Center for Biotechnology Information describes Naphthalene as a white, volatile, solid polycyclic hydrocarbon with a strong mothball odor.

RELATED: Baltimore Co. neighbors concerned about strong 'mothball' odor

The contaminated substance was identified in a 150-foot long vein in a localized area just north of the LaFarge facility on the southeastern portion of the property.

According to Tradepoint Atlantic, the Naphthalene material was uncovered during a redevelopment and excavation project at the facility and was most likely the result of a furnace blast.

The Naphthalene material had previously been buried decades ago but until this week remained undetected.

To prevent any further release of the substance, a temporary cap has been placed on top of the impacted area until a permanent solution can be found.

As of May 17, excavation operations have been halted, and the material has been contained.

Tradepoint Atlantic says they're not concerned about any public health risks stemming from Naphthalene being exposed in the air.