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.

Monday, July 16, 2007

formaldehyde death?

After CBS Evening News did an investigative report on the problems with formaldehyde in FEMA trailers, I got a call from Desiree Collins and Earl Shorty of Baton Rouge, La. When Earl called me to request a test kit for their FEMA trailer, his wife Desiree was coughing so badly in the background that it was apparent she was finding it hard to get a breath. Earl said his wife was recovering from treatments for ovarian cancer before Hurricane Katrina. The couple had been living in the trailer for about eight or nine months. They had noticed a “gluey type” smell when they moved into the camper, but didn’t know that could be a problem. About five months after they moved in, Desiree started having trouble breathing. When she came into the trailer she would cough constantly and get short of breath. They went to two doctors and ran different tests, but doctors couldn’t identify the problem. Only recently when CBS Evening News did an investigative story about the problems with formaldehyde in FEMA trailers did Earl and Desiree connect her problems with their FEMA trailers.
I sent Earl a test kit, and his test came back over the limit at 0.12 ppm. Levels were likely much higher when they first received the trailers. Sadly, Desiree passed away July 2. While the cause of death was listed as lung cancer, Desiree was not a smoker. But she had lived for many months in a trailer with toxic levels of formaldehyde. She had an impaired immune system due to her earlier cancer treatments. The last thing she needed was to be placed into a toxic tin can 24-7.
When Earl first called me, I said, “Get out of the FEMA trailer if at all possible.” But they had no where else to go. Other housing just isn’t available. Earl has two sisters, and they are also living in FEMA trailers. The two sisters are also experiencing health problems that are consistent with formaldehyde outgassing.
Earl, having seen his wife suffer and then die from the respiratory problems, worries about continuing to live in this trailer where he saw his wife suffer, struggling to breathe before going into the hospital and passing away. What will be the long term health impacts on Earl? When will the government do something about this horrible problem?