Bethlehem residents voice concern over ‘maple syrup smell’ pouring over area

Written by on September 21, 2022

Bethlehem residents voice concern over ‘maple syrup smell’ pouring over area

By Jay Bradley
September 21, 2022

Bethlehem City Hall. Photo | Courtesy of Bethlehem City website

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Residents on Tuesday brought a concerning smell to the attention of Bethlehem City Council.

George Andrews, who lives near Cypress Road, took to the podium to represent the group in their concerns.

“We’re having very, very awful smells,” Andrews said. “It’s all about air quality. We kind of know where it’s coming from, we can’t get answers if it’s cancerous.”

In a post on the social media app “NextDoor,” Bethlehem resident Jill Clagett called on her neighbors near Airport Road to report any traces of the smell to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The post garnered more than 60 comments from those in the area discussing and theorizing about what the smell could be, many stating they believed it could be a chemical emitting from a nearby factory. Some claimed the nearby Spray-Tek as the source.

Bethlehem City Council, the DEP and Spray-Tek did not immediately respond to efforts seeking comment.

Some commenters elaborated that they smelled it as well, and that it was at times sweet, like maple syrup, and at other times smells “nasty” or like “sour milk.”

Clagett, who made the initial post, said there were about a dozen people at the meeting who voiced concerns.

“This odor is significant and severe, and it happens frequently,” said another resident who spoke up at the council meeting. “Last Thursday I smelled maple syrup all day long. It was overpowering, giving me a headache.”

The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has listed air quality as one of its concerns in the FutureLV Regional Plan.

A federal air toxin mapping created by the EPA based on 2018 emission data lists the area where these concerns are being raised as having a higher cancer risk than other areas in the Lehigh Valley. Additionally, nearby B. Braun is the subject of lawsuits in recent years over concerns that it has contributed to residents’ cancer diagnoses.

It is currently unclear what the current source of the smell is or if it may be a health concern.

If anyone has any information or experiences regarding the smell, contact


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