RIVER RIDGE- One block down from the levee in River Ridge sits 81-year-old Richard Gillen Jr.'s home.

When the sun sets on the river, a strong odor floats his way.

"Smells like rotten vegetation," Gillen said.

To make mattes worse, he has asthma. Gillen said he now uses his inhaler four or five times a day.

"Really, I've never mentioned it to the doctor, but, I guess I should've. Because she's said, 'How come your asthma's getting so bad?' I said, 'I don't know, it's just been bad in the last 3 or 4 months," Gillen said.

Gillen and dozens of other people are concerned about a mysterious odor in their neighborhood.

From River Ridge to Waggaman, neighbors who live by the water believe the foul air is making them sick, and Jefferson Parish leaders are considering calling in the United States Environmental Protection Agency to investigate.

During the past few months, neighbors tell Eyewitness News they've noticed their air filters turn black.

It's not just the smell. Others residents said they have noticed strange dust particles floating in the air.

The odor and particle concerns were a big topic during Wednesday morning's parish council meeting.

"I don't think there's someone standing off camera throwing stuff in the air," Councilmember At-Large Chris Roberts said.

Roberts said the state Department of Environmental Quality is not doing enough to get to the bottom of the smelly situation.

"DEQ or somebody needs to get off their ass and come down here and put out a team or whatever else," Roberts said.

District 2 Council member Paul Johnston agreed.

"We're trying to find a needle in a haystack. The DEQ is out there doing what they can. But, to be honest, I think they need to be doing more," Johnston said.

A spokesperson for the DEQ said the agency believes the Jefferson Parish landfill on the west bank is the main source for the odor. The department is also examining other possible sources.

As for the floating dust particles, the department is speaking with several industries that use grain in their work to figure out if that's the cause.

"Jeez! With all the technology they've got today, they've got to be able to do something," Gillen said.

Whatever the cause is, Gillen wants it solved -- and fast -- so his lungs can finally catch a break.

Officials with DEQ declined to comment on the parish's request and interest in getting the EPA involved. They told us they could probably know more about the dust particles sometime next week.

The council is also considering calling for a special meeting with the DEQ before the end of the year.

Caresse Jackman can be reached at cjackman@wwltv.com.