Toxic gas cripples Ocean County community

BRICK TOWNSHIP - The smell of a toxic gas in Brick Township is so strong that residents say they're getting sick.

People say it smells like rotten eggs. The putrid sewer-like smell is overwhelming in some areas of Brick. Residents say it's even worse at the end of Bay Shore Drive, where masses of decaying matter pile up along the water's edge.

The smell comes from a naturally occurring process. It happens when seaweed, eel grass, and other vegetation decay. People in the area say they smell the "swamp stink" sometimes, but it's never this bad.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says just a few breaths of air containing high levels of hydrogen sulfide gas can cause death. It says lower, longer-term exposure can cause eye irritation, headache, loss of consciousness and fatigue.

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