About ToxicTrailers.com

ToxicTrailers.com was launched after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when the government spent more than $2 billion on FEMA trailers with high levels of formaldehyde that sickened thousands of people. The FEMA trailer tragedy exposed what is a widespread problem in RVs, mobile homes, modular buildings and even conventional buildings that use pressed wood products. Unfortunately, as we approach the tenth anniversary of Katrina, formaldehyde regulations are not being enforced in the U.S., and people's health is at risk. If you are having burning eyes, congestion, sore throat, coughing, breathing difficulties, frequent sinus infections or rashes, and difficulties concentrating, you may have a formaldehyde problem. For questions or to share your story, write 4becky@cox.net.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

What brands of trailers are testing high?

I'm writing you from a Public Library's Reference Desk. I thought you might be able to help us out with a question. A patron recently asked us which 13 RV models used by FEMA did the Sierra club test when reporting on potential formaldehyde exposure hazards to FEMA trailer occupants.

Could you give us a quick list of the make and models the Sierra Club tested? We've looked all over without any luck.

Thanks for your time

Response: I'm not sure there were only 13 models purchased by FEMA. I heard 19 from FEMA at one point. I can tell you that we tested 13 different models and all had at least one test that was over the limit. Our testing suggests the problem is widespread in the RV industry. And we have done some more testing recently that shows this is still a bad problem with some tests coming in nearly four times over the limit in campers that have been in use for more than a year. Eight out of nine test results we have in so far are over the limit. The highest test results are coming in campers where the problem is so obvious that people’s eyes burn after being in the camper for a little while. People are also having bad problems with mold.

I would suggest telling your patron that if they are experiencing any of the symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning, call the FEMA maintenance number, 1-866-877-6075, and request a formaldehyde test. I'm not sure about Louisiana, but here in Mississippi they are now testing when people request it. If tests are high FEMA claims it is replacing the housing.

Thanks! Becky

Friday, April 27, 2007

The news on formaldehyde in FEMA trailers just gets worse. Two recent tests we have done have found elevated levels of formaldehyde in the trailers FEMA contractors said were “product sensitive” and supposed to be low in formaldehyde outgassing. And a test was also over the limit for a FEMA mobile home. We thought mobile homes were supposed to be covered by HUD rules limiting formaldehyde. Some other recent tests are coming in three and four times over the limit. People living in these campers are having serious and continuing health problems. Members of the family in the mobile home for over a year have averaged several nose bleeds a week.

Forward from a friend (still living in a FEMA trailer) to provide more information for people who want to know more about formaldehyde poisoning.

You have got to love the name of this site http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2006/08/08/formaldehyde-in-fema-travel-trailers-making-people-sick/

Excerpt from article by Dr. Thad Goddish:

The Nature of the Health Problem
Formaldehyde is a potent eye, upper respiratory and skin irritant. Evidence from several studies also indicates that it causes central nervous system effects, including headaches, fatigue, and depression. It also has the potential for causing asthma and inducing asthmatic attacks as a nonspecific irritant. Additionally, animal studies suggest that formaldehyde is a potential human carcinogen.


Formaldehyde, also known as formalin, formal, and methyl aldehyde, is a colorless liquid or gas with a pungent odor. It is generally known as a disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, defoamer, and preservative. Formaldehyde is found in adhesives, cosmetics, deodorants, detergents, dyes, explosives, fertilizer, fiber board, garden hardware, germicide, fungicide, foam insulation, synthetic lubricants, paints, plastic, rubber, textile, urethane resins, and water softening chemicals.
Inhalation of vapors produces irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat and frequently results in upper respiratory tract irritation, coughing, and bronchitis. Asthma may occur in sensitive individuals. Severe exposure to fumes may lead to chemical pneumonia. Skin reactions after exposure to formaldehyde are very common because the chemical can be both irritating and allergy-causing. In addition, formaldehyde is involved in DNA damage and inhibits its repair.
Formaldehyde is a suspected human carcinogen and has been shown to produce mutations and abnormal organisms in bacterial studies. Formaldehyde fumes are liberated from plywood, particleboard, and chipboard, as well as urea formaldehyde foam insulation. Symptoms associated with exposure to formaldehyde fumes include mucous membrane irritation, upper respiratory tract irritation, eye irritation, skin rashes, itching, nausea, stuffy nose, headaches, dizziness, and general fatigue.
Toxicity is primarily related to the presence of formaldehyde gas. Toxicity may be relatively inconspicuous and nonspecific in nature. Patients suffering from formaldehyde toxicity have been misdiagnosed as having asthma, bronchitis, anxiety, depression, or hypochondria. Severe prolonged vomiting and diarrhea in infants may be related to chronic exposure to formaldehyde fumes. An individual may become sensitized to formaldehyde following repeated exposure to these fumes.
If you have any questions or concerns about formaldehyde levels in your home, contact the office of air pollution control, your local or state Department of Health, or the American Lung Association office nearest you.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

High formaldehyde levels PLUS mold a problem

Yesterday my wife called FEMA to report that a test had shown excessive levels of formaldehyde in our FEMA trailer and to report again about the bathtub leaking. They sounded very irritated that we had a formaldehyde test done by an outside company (we didn't tell them who did the test, only that our pediatrician recommended it). FEMA told us that they would not accept anyone else's test and that we would have to request them to perform a test if we suspect formaldehyde, so we did. Within about an hour a FEMA repair man showed up to look at the leaking tub. The repair man suspected the faucet of causing the leak and wanted to get to the back side of the faucet so he got out his saw and cut a hole in the wall, but when he started cutting the wall crumbled and we found that about two feet of the wall was like that. Once the sheetrock was removed we were able to see that the inside of the wall, studs and insulation were covered in black mold. Also the stud near the floor was rotten, when he stuck his screw driver into the wood the stud crumbled. The repair man got nervous when my wife got her camera and started taking pictures. He said that the mold was not that bad and wouldn't cause any problems so he told my wife she needed to spray it with bleach and that he will be back today to cover it back up. I'm not going to accept that as a solution.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

FEMA employees also at risk

Why is FEMA allowed to exceed the STEL and PEL LIMITS AND EXPOSURE TIMES that are required by workers? SHORT TERM EXPOSURE LIMIT is .2 PP< for 15 minutes. Not only are resident of these units at risk so are FEMA employees.




Note that ACGIH Threshold Limit Value (TLV): .3 ppm ceiling for HCHO 8. Exposure Controls/Personal Protection
Airborne Exposure Limits:
-OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):
0.75 ppm (TWA), 2 ppm (STEL), 0.5 ppm (TWA) action level for formaldehyde 200 ppm (TWA) for methanol -ACGIH Threshold Limit Value (TLV): 0.3 ppm Ceiling formaldehyde, Sensitizer, A2 Suspected Human Carcinogen 200 ppm (TWA) 250 ppm (STEL) skin for methanol

Air pollution: no place like a mobile home - health effects from formaldehyde Science News, Oct 19, 1991 by Karen Schmidt http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1200/is_n16_v140/ai_11515777

A mobile home may feel cozy, but its tight construction seals in air pollutants better than most conventional homes. Adding to the problem, the pressed wood products typically used in mobile homes give off noxious formaldehyde gas. Many mobile home residents have complained of "sick building syndrome." Now researchers suggest that even those who don't complain may experience health effects -- and at lower levels of formaldehyde than previously documented. Scientists at California's Indoor Air Quality Program in Berkeley monitored formaldehyde levels for two one-week periods in more than 500 mobile homes and collected health information from more than 1,000 uncomplaining occupants. The study found a strong statistical association linking eye, skin and upper-respiratory irritation with exposures to formaldehyde just below the 0.1 parts per million (ppm) level that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has considered a threshold for irritation. "This is the first study to show irritating effects at such a low level," says Kai-Shen Liu, who led the study.

Kai-Shen Liu

Indoor Air Quality Section - Environmental Health Laboratory Branch California Department of Health Services 2151 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94704 Tel. (510) 540-3161; Fax. (510) 540-3022; E-mail: Kliu@dhs.ca.gov

Has done studies on formaldehyde in mobile homes and TT http://www.cal-iaq.org/CV/CV_liu.htm


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ask FEMA for replacement

Dear Lisa,

I am a Sierra Club volunteer who has overseen the testing of formaldehyde in FEMA trailers. You have a lot of the symptoms expected with formaldehyde poisoning. Our testing has show a high percentage of the trailers do have toxic levels of formaldehyde. Rashes are quite common in the trailers where the gas is so bad it causes your eyes to burn. FEMA claimed in a letter to Congress recently that it had provided replacement housing for 70 families that reported this as a problem. I would recommend you call the service number for FEMA, tell them you have health problems you suspect could be linked to formaldehyde, and request replacement housing. Let me know what they say!


Constant health problems since living in FEMA trailer...

Hi, my name is Lisa. I live in Chalmette, LA and thought I would write you because of some articles I’ve read about the help you gave towards exposing formaldehyde poisoning in the FEMA trailers. Well, I’m not sure but I think my son and I who have lived in a FEMA trailer for a year now suffer from this. I was healthy up till the storm. The following May I finally got a trailer and that June I brought my son home to it. Now he has allergies and it’s constant with him.
Since living in this trailer my hair is falling out and I’ve had a rash on my face and head. It won’t go away. I’ve been going to a dermatologist but I think its more then rosacea like he says. Its spread to my ear, as well. I went to a rheumatologist to talk about my immune system. He told me that my immune system has three anti bodies in it and something is brewing, not just arthritis. There are so many symptoms with me...
When I wash dishes in here I used to lean my head against the shelves over the sink and just rest it there. But I realized the other day that’s were I am losing my hair.
My eyes still burn some times in here and its been over year. This is all we have to live in till some cheaper apartments come open. But I am writing to you because the Sierra Club was the only contact I could get from these articles and was hoping you could give me some information on the test kits and what lawyers were handling the class action lawsuit against FEMA and the trailer manufacturer?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

FEMA won't release test results

On Jan. 29, 2007, I made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to FEMA to release the results of the EPA testing of formaldehyde in FEMA trailers that was conducted back in October of 2006. FEMA has consistently refused to release the results of this testing, all that while claiming that only a very small number of FEMA trailers have the problem with formaldehyde outgassing.

I got a reply back in early February stating that I was number 226 in line to have my FOIA request answered. FEMA said it normally has 20 days to answer FOIA requests but under ‘unusual circumstances’, can extend the 20-day time limit. After 40 days I contacted FEMA again and was told that I was now 198 in line to have my FOIA request answered.

At this rate, it will be a year before FEMA discloses the results of the testing!

This agency not only believes it is above the law and doesn’t have to answer FOIA requests in a timely manner. It is also guilty of placing thousands of families in unsafe emergency housing. If the EPA testing showed the formaldehyde wasn’t a problem in most trailers, FEMA would have released it long ago.

Becky Gillette

Monday, April 16, 2007

Offensive smell in FEMA trailer has gotten worse

Veda & Musa

Apr 12 (4 days ago)

Hi: We have a FEMA trailer at 625 Hagan Ave., New Orleans, LA 70119. We have some toxic substance in our FEMA trailer. Unless we leave the windows open all of the time, it smells and sometimes makes your eyes water and smart. This has gotten worse over time. We 1st got into the trailer in March 2006. Now it is worse than ever.

Veda & Musa
Laid Back Tours

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Manufacturers refuse to do anything about toxic RVs

Apr 9 (12 hours ago)
I am not in a FEMA Trailer - I purchased a Fifth Wheel Travel Trailer from Emerald Coast RV in Robertsdale, AL for recreational use (not as a temporary place to live). It is a 31.5' Cougar made by the Keystone RV Company in Goshen, Indiana. Becky Gillette (Sierra Club) provided me with test kits last August. My camper tested at .42PPM of Formaldehyde. I have had numerous phone conversations with the Manufacturer and the Dealership. Both have told me that they are not willing to do anything about the high level of Formaldehyde - the Manufacturer has stated in several letters that there is no law regulating the level of Formaldehyde in campers and I have one letter that states that Formaldehyde is not a "warranty issue". Never in my life before have I encountered such blatent disregard for another person's health. The Dealership and Manufacturer could care less if people contract Cancer or any type of Respiratory ailments associated with breathing the poison that is contained inside these campers.

My heart goes out to anyone who has had to live in any of the campers that are contaminated with Formaldehyde. After owning my camper for over a year and using it only a very few times and becoming sick each time - I now have a very expensive "Yard Ornament". In other words I own a camper that is totally useless to me and my wife.

I have been unable to get the Alabama Attorney General's office to do anything or any other agency. The EPA has told me they do not regulate the indoor air quality for campers. All of the Attorney's that I have talked to tells me there is no case law that would help me.

I would be very interested in reading some of the other stories from people who have stayed in these contaminated campers.

Very Respectfully,

Marvin C. Motes