Do we need to evacuate?
September 21, 2009 1:36 AM   Subscribe

name that mysterious acrid smell/taste!

Over the last few weeks, my roommate and I have occasionally noticed a sort of smokey smell near the side of our house. Its nothing we can pin down exactly, and not very strong.

Tonight I was lying in bed and I had this sensation in my mouth as if it was being irritated by a chemical or smoke. Eventually my eyes felt irritated as well. I asked my roommate to smell my room and she said she smelled nothing. Then, 10 minutes later, she came to my room complaining that her eyes were itching and she could feel an irritating sensation/smell/taste in the her nose and throat.

We called the fire department and they've just left. They were only here for about 3 minutes and said they couldn't smell anything. Now PG&E (gas company) is here, and his little sniffer wand says there's no gas leak. The thing is, this sensation takes time to notice, so these folks aren't noticing anything in the short time they're staying.

What else should we consider might be causing the problem? Neighborhood meth lab? Broken sewer line? I'm at a loss. We're all asthmatics here - my roommate and I and each of our kids. I felt short of breath when I was lying in bed, but I know there's a certain power of suggestion that might partially be at work here...
posted by serazin to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Response by poster: Nevermind folks, the PG&E man diagnosed our problem: a skunk!

I'm off to bed, only slightly embarrassed.
posted by serazin at 2:14 AM on September 21, 2009 [10 favorites]

This thread just made me smile.
posted by ferdinandcc at 4:09 AM on September 21, 2009

I'm surprised that a skunk takes a while to notice. Usually that smells hits my nose immediately.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 5:50 AM on September 21, 2009

That is the most unusual/sensitive reaction to a skunk that I've ever heard of. The only time I've ever had a physical reaction like you've described (though much less severe) was when our dog was hit and I had to clean him. I'm glad it wasn't a meth lab!
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:20 AM on September 21, 2009

Skunk-on-the-wind is a bit different, IMO, than skunk BO from a guy who's bumbling around in the crawlspace under your living room. Foxes also smell kinda like that. Did the gas man come face to face with the perpetrator?
posted by Lou Stuells at 8:01 AM on September 21, 2009

Response by poster: He didn't encounter the skunk directly, but was basing his assessment on many previous experiences with people calling to complain of gas leaks that also turned out to be skunks. He also pointed out (accurately) that there was a more obvious smell at some times than others, ie: when the wind changed, you could really smell a skunky odor.

However, if anyone has other ideas for what may have kept us up last night, I'm open to hearing them!

posted by serazin at 1:19 PM on September 21, 2009

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