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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

DeVany response to CDC\FEMA coverup of formaldehyde problems

Note: This is a letter from Mary DeVany regarding news stories on www.salon.com, AP, and CBS News (see toxic trailer news links) revealing that CDC and FEMA colluded to coverup the dangers of formaldehyde poisoning from FEMA trailers. DeVany was an expert witness for Sierra Club at Congressional hearings on this problem in the summer of 2007.

Here my editorial in Salon.com published regarding the Salon article regarding the FEMA\CDC coverup of problems with formaldehyde in FEMA trailers:

This article is a long time in the coming, and I'm gratified that the collusion between the CDC and FEMA is finally coming to light and getting the notoriety that it deserves.

In my Congressional testimony last July 19, 2007, I had been requested to explain to Congress the health effects of formaldehyde, how formaldehyde got into the temporary housing units, what the various exposure limits of different agencies mean, and to give advice to Congress on follow-up actions to reduce formaldehyde exposures to the residents in these trailers.

I stated before the Federal Agency Oversight Committee, Chaired by Congressman Henry A. Waxman, that the CDC had misapplied the science and toxicology of formaldehyde from its own agency's interpretation published by the ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry -- a branch of the CDC).

I have excerpted that section (section 10) of my testimony below.

In July 2006, FEMA developed and implemented an air monitoring and sampling plan to establish and verify methods to reduce the presence of formaldehyde fumes in travel trailers. The sampling was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the data were analyzed by the ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Register), which is affiliated with the
Centers for Disease Control, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The results of this study showed high levels of formaldehyde in nearly all of the trailers, whether they were continuously ventilated or were kept cool through air conditioning. Without giving any explanation, although the ATSDR has an exposure limit of 0.008 ppm for exposures of 365 or more days, rather than use this limit when analyzing EPA‚s air sampling of FEMA‚s trailers, the ATSDR arbitrarily chose a limit of 0.3 ppm as their "level of concern" and applied this high level to the results as if it were a safe and applicable exposure limit.

This level is nearly 40 times the ATSDR's limit for people exposed more than 365 days, as the hurricane victims living in travel trailers are, and resulted in a bizarre skewing of the sampling results interpretation. However, even applying this "level of concern," the average sampling results were even higher than this very elevated level.

This misapplication and skewing of scientific results is at best unethical and grossly misrepresents and attempts to minimize the adverse health effects being experienced by thousands of travel trailer residents."

The bigger question is: when will our government stop protecting the temporary housing unit/trailer manufacturers that supplied such a dangerous product?

Mary C. DeVany, MS, CSP, CHMM
DeVany Industrial Consultants
14507 NW 19th Ave.
Vancouver, WA 98685-8003 USA
Phone: (360) 546-0999
Fax: (360) 546-0777
E-mail: mdevany@earthlink.net