Social media has been flooded with reports of a strong chemical smell and residue in various Hudson Valley communities. While many believe it could be a result of the Ohio train derailment, the matter is currently under investigation.

Residents in Orange, Dutchess and Ulster have all been reporting strange chemical smells and residue left on cars, decks and streets. Some say the odor was "fragrant" and more "sweet smelling" than unpleasant. On Friday, Orange County government officials reported that hazmat teams were sent out to several Hudson Valley towns after residents reported "smelling an unusual odor and seeing residue on their cars."

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has joined Orange County Environmental Health staff and local first responders to concentrate their efforts in the New Windsor, Cornwall and Washingtonville areas where the majority of reports have been identified. Residents in Lagrange, Pleasant Valley, Woodstock and other neighboring communities have been leaving anecdotal reports of similar smells and residue. On Friday morning, officials reported that there was no known urgent public health threat.

Late Friday, an update from the DEC stated that the initial investigation revealed that "odors are strongest in Orange County, indicating a localized source." Initial air readings determined that there was "no imminent public health or environmental threat" to the area. However, there has not been enough information to determine the cause.

Some residents were not convinced and pointed to similar reports over the past few days in Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Hudson Valley Weather added fuel to the fire by posting a lengthy explanation of wind patterns from Ohio to the Hudson Valley over the past few days that may have "supported the dispersion of particles towards our region if they were in fact present in the upper atmosphere." The local weather page continued to post more photos and theories inferring that the local situation could be a result of a toxic cloud.

Experts, however, say it's highly unlikely the odor and residue are from Ohio because of the localized nature of the reports. Similar residue discovered in Connecticut is being explained by dust storms in the plains.

Random smells are pretty common in the Hudson Valley but coupled with the residue and similar reports in neighboring states they could be leading many to simply jump to conclusions. Whatever the reason, the DEC is continuing to monitor the situation and concerned residents should contact their local health department if they continue to notice any unusual odors or residue.

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