Updated at 6:10 p.m. Aug. 28, 2012
Reports of an odor brought the county Hazardous Materials Team to a townhome garage on Carlton Oaks Drive on Tuesday, but a Sheriff’s Department presence pointed to a different concern.
A woman in the affected home in the 9450 block of Carlton Oaks Drive was being questioned over a possible probation violation, authorities said.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Craig Johnson said a search of the home was conducted, but didn’t specify what was sought or why the woman was on probation.
Meanwhile, an old gallon can of B-9 Chem-Dip—a toxic carburetor cleaner and the source of the spill—rested on a brick outside the multifamily complex near the intersection of Halberns Boulevard and Willow Pond Road.
Although yellow police tape was strung across the alley fronting the small garage units, traffic on Carlton Oaks was unaffected from the time of a neighbor’s call to the Fire Department about 11:45 a.m.
Fire Capt. John Sengebusch said the carburetor cleaner was illegal, but a La Mesa autoparts dealer said the product, made by Berryman, was being sold and was in stock.
According to the Berryman website, B-9 Chem-DIP contains methylene chloride and cresylic acid, and “disposal must conform to the rules of your community for proper disposal of hazardous waste.”
The odor from the product is that of cresylic acid, the manufacturer said, noting this “is also one of the hardest odors to get rid of. Our best results have occurred by soaking the affected area with isopropyl alcohol.”
But the federal Environmental Protection Agency says of the acid:
Acute inhalation exposure by humans to mixed cresols results in respiratory tract irritation, with symptoms such as dryness, nasal constriction, and throat irritation. Mixed cresols are also strong dermal irritants. Ingestion of high levels of mixed cresols by humans has resulted in effects on the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, blood, liver, kidney, and [central nervous system.]