PORTER RANCH, LOS ANGELES (KABC) --Homes in Porter Ranch that were evacuated because of the Southern California Gas Co. leak are safe for residents to return to according to new test results, county health officials said Friday.
Some homes do have a trace amount of metals in the dust that could cause some of the symptoms residents have complained about, such as nosebleeds, rashes, and skin irritation, officials said.
However, they add the amount found was well below levels that would be considered a health risk.
"Our testing protocol looked at 250 different chemicals so that's a very long list of everything we thought could possibly express itself here in the community," said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser with the Los Angeles County Department of Health. "When we looked at the indoor air sampling of all of the homes there were no results that were at a health level of concern."
But many residents remain skeptical, fearing that the tests did not look for every potentially hazardous chemical.
"They tested for 250 things and they found some, but there's still that big gap of what else needs to be tested for," said Matt Pakucko, who lives close to the leak site.
The county health department tested the inside of more than 100 homes closest to the leak at the gas company's Aliso Canyon storage facility.
The massive leak, which lasted from October to February, forced the relocation of thousands of Porter Ranch residents to temporary housing, much of it at gas company expense. It was considered the largest methane gas leak in U.S. history.
While the leak has been capped for more than two months, residents say they were continuing to experience health symptoms and have been reluctant to return home until the county released its rest results.
Gas company spokesman Mike Mizrahi said the county's findings agree with the company's analysis.
"What the department of public health is releasing conforms with what we have been saying all along, and that is that it is safe to return to your homes," Mizrahi said.
County officials recommend that residents who return do a thorough cleaning of soft and hard surfaces in their homes as well as vacuuming.
Prior to the release of the study, SoCal Gas had offered to pay for deep cleaning of the homes for residents who were ready to return. Now that the report says the homes are safe, the company is reviewing that program again.