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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Imports from China behind high formaldehyde levels?

I am an organic chemist with experience in phenol formaldehyde resins (PF resins) that are used to make wood products and other end uses (see my US patent 6,232,368 for PF resins). I have been following the controversy about high formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers and suspect that wood products imported from China with higher formaldehyde levels than would be allowed to be produced in the U.S. are the source of the problem.

Each batch of any chemical made in a plant is analyzed for various parameters, i.e. specifications, after it is made. There are records kept, certificates of analysis (COA or Certs) for each batch. For PF resins, a plant should measure %FF for each batch. It is easy to lower the %FF but it costs time and some money. In the past, the %FF in US resins was high, >10%. Now due to the OSHA formaldehyde rules, the %FF
is low, <0.1%.

However, as reported by the L.A. Times, China doesn't have such %FF limits in the wood products it exports to the USA. China doesn't allow high formaldehyde products
to be used in buildings in China, but is happy to export them to the USA.

With the melamine in animal feed problem, ethylene glycol in toothpaste problem and the formaldehyde in wood products problem, when is our government going to wake up and protect us from these hazards from China?

Sincerely,
Kenneth B. White, Ph.D.
kwhite@elgin.edu