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, November 6, 2007

CA fire victims next to be poisoned by FEMA?

I just spoke with Joseph Carmouche of Kiln, Miss. We did two tests of their FEMA provided mobile home (ironically, one designed for people with disabilities). The test results from 7-31-07 were 0.186 ppm. Tests results from 8-24-07 after they had tried airing it out were 0.136 ppm. Both are clearly over the limit of 0.1 ppm which is much higher than what most agencies say is safe for long term exposure (see standards below). Mr. Carmouche, who is elderly, had a serious rash that was nearly fatal, and his wife has also had a bad rash (one of the symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning). Mr. Carmouche has emphysema which got worse after moving into the FEMA mobile home and his wife’s asthma has worsened. They also have had the classic symptom of burning eyes.

FEMA has stopped deploying the RVs because of high formaldehyde levels but continues to distribute mobile homes to victims of disasters. Both the experience of the Huckabees (Lindsay Huckabee testified in Congress about the numerous medical problems her family has suffered as a result of high formaldehyde levels in their FEMA mobile home) and the Carmouche family is that the mobile homes also have this problem.

Are thousands of fire victims in California the next to be poisoned by these FEMA mobile homes? Why has FEMA not tested the mobile homes while assuming they are safe? The mobile homes are made of the same materials as the RVs. Evidently the HUD regulations regarding formaldehyde in mobile homes either aren’t effective or weren’t being enforced when these trailers were made.

One of Sierra Club’s highest formaldehyde test readings at Renaissance Village in Louisiana was the mobile medical unit! This isn’t just a problem confined to RVs.

FEMA still hasn’t learned its lesson. Sure, it is difficult to decide how to house disaster victims if the mobile homes are also high in formaldehyde. But at least in California there should be enough alternate housing that people don’t have to choose between being poisoned by formaldehyde or being homeless.

Becky Gillette, bgillette4@cox.net

Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) [US DHHS, CDC]

Minimal Risk Levels (MRL) for formaldehyde

Acute MRL: 0.04 ppm (1-14 days exposure)
Intermediate duration MRL: 0.03 ppm (>14-364 days exposure)
Chronic duration MRL: 0.008 ppm (365 or more days exposure)

World Health Organization (WHO)

30-minute average: 0.08 ppm