downtown Baton Rouge stock

Advocate file photo of Fifth and Main streets in downtown Baton Rouge.

The cause of a foul odor wafting through downtown Baton Rouge Tuesday may never be found after Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality field technicians came up empty-handed in their investigation.

The smell that some described as "awful" was stronger than the chemical-like odors that regularly drift from nearby chemical plants, according to downtown resident Dan Puchalla, who said when he woke up Tuesday it was enough to make his eyes water.

"When my husband and I woke up this morning we went out our bedroom door and it just smacked us in the face," he said. Puchalla described the smell as "sulphurous."

DEQ spokeswoman Jean Kelly said a concerned resident called the department's "Single Point of Contact," or SPOC, line Tuesday morning reporting the foul odor, spurring the crew to investigate.

Kelly said the crew was not able to pinpoint the source of the odor in the downtown area as of Tuesday afternoon, and found no traces of pollutants in the air.

Several downtown business and hotel employees said Tuesday that the odor wasn't particularly unusual, and that customers or guests hadn't complained. But many said they had noticed the issue themselves as they entered the downtown area.

Kelly said whenever residents experience a similar concerning odor or other environmental problem, it's important to call the department's SPOC line, as that's what triggers the sending of field personnel to investigate. That line can be reached at 225-219-3640.

Follow Emma Kennedy on Twitter, @byemmakennedy.