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.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

advice for ventilating trailers

Perhaps this post will be useful for your visitors. I've been fighting this for about a year and some of what I've learned might help others.

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How to ventilate a trailer

You've heard that ventilation will help and that with time the wood in the trailer will become less toxic. Ventilation will help you manage the formaldehyde but the engineered wood in the trailer will always be bad. We had 25-year-old cabinets still too toxic to tolerate, with formaldehyde levels exceeding .3 ppm.

As some trailer residents are discovering, keeping doors and windows open can make formaldehyde levels worse. How does that work? In urban areas high levels of ozone pollution and high indoor temperatures will cause products to release formaldehyde at a faster rate. This is part of what made our apartment so dangerous - I let it get too hot while trying to ventilate it. I was able to record the resulting formaldehyde levels. It isn't pretty.

Need tips on surviving the trailer experience? Open windows and doors to keep a good cross breeze going 24/7 and place a large easy to read
thermometer on the face of one of the cabinets. Try to keep all rooms open and ventilated. If you don't feel a breeze in the center of the trailer put a fan near a window to force air in.

When the interior temperature climbs into the mid 80's it is time to leave the trailer. This could be the time of day you go to the library to read about formaldehyde. It would be good to shade the trailer from the afternoon sun if possible.

We now keep windows open while running the air conditioner. This provides fresh air ventilation and keeps the place cool enough to keep formaldehyde under control. Keep an eye on condensation buildup from the AC - you don't want to encourage mold growth or water damage. Yes our power bill is high but it is actually much cheaper than the doctor bills it prevents.

When sleeping keep your head away from trailer wood. This probably means sleeping with your head at the foot of the bed. You really don't want anyone stuffed into a tight airspace with her head under a bookshelf, in a narrow space under a bunk, or in a small loft area. Everyone should be sleeping with good fresh airflow over the face, not just air that is circulating around the trailer.

The best way to ventilate a trailer and protect families? Move everyone out and use a wrecking ball on the trailer. Trailers can't be fixed without completely replacing the interior with safe materials like metal and hardwoods. Adding chemical sealants or painting the junk wood might seem easy but you'd really need to dismantle everything to reach the sides and backs of the wood panels and counters. We did three coats of sealant in our cabinets and it wasn't enough.

David Wilson
davidmw@tx.rr.com