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, February 24, 2008

formaldehyde petition to EPA

Tens of thousands of families have been exposed to toxic levels of formaldehyde in FEMA trailers. The Center for Disease Control and FEMA recently very belatedly admitted how toxic the trailers are, and said they would try to move everyone out of the trailers as soon as possible. The problem is bigger than just FEMA trailers. This just exposed a problem with formaldehyde that has existed in RVs and mobile homes for decades. There are no indoor air standards for formaldehyde, and people are getting exposed to this carcinogenic gas in not just RVs and mobile homes but also offices and regular homes. Formaldehyde is used in adhesives for a wide variety of products including in flooring, doors, cabinets and furniture. There are safer, soybean-based alternatives to formaldehyde and ways that materials which use urea-formaldehyde glues can be cured before being used in people’s homes. Please advocate that all Americans be protected from formaldehyde exposure by signing onto the petition at http://action.sierraclub.org/site/PageNavigator/FormaldehydePetition.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Could formaldehyde cause animal deaths?

My name is Amy. We purchased a Jayflite by Jayco trailer in 2006 and are still waiting for the fumes to disappear. We used the trailer as a second home for my husband’s job. In addition to eye irritation for myself and husband, the puppy my husband bought me for Christmas developed sores on his nose legs and body. After almost two years of testing for allergies, countless steroid shots and medical visits, we had to have him put to sleep.
Now hearing about the formaldehyde in trailers, I can’t help wonder if this was the cause for my sweet Jackie’s pain. Has anyone else had problems with animals in travel trailers? How do we get this thing tested? We are no longer using it, and being closed up constantly, the fumes are over powering. I’m afraid to go into it anymore. Any information you can provide will be appreciated.

Amy, aspark@charter.net

Dear Amy,

One of our first indications that there was a problem with formaldehyde in the FEMA trailers is that Paul and Melody Stewart's cockatiel was lethargic and had a bloody nose. The vet told them that if they didn't get the bird out of the trailer, it would probably die. We have had other reports of sick animals and animal deaths in the trailers. Animals are small and breathe faster (just like children) so they can be more affected by polluted air. We believe that the deaths of some infants and elderly people living in the trailers were caused by formaldehyde poisoning. At the very high levels of formaldehyde seen on average in these trailers, you would expect the same adverse health effects to animals that have been seen in people.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Fleetwood burning eyes and causing rashes?

My name is Jackie and I was writing trying to get information on the formaldehyde exposure in RV's. We have a 2006 Fleetwood travel trailer and we really love going camping. We have just had some strange things happen, and I now am worried about our safety. Last summer was our first summer to go camping and we did not miss a holiday. I started noticing when I would start loading the camper my eyes would burn so badly I would have to close them really tight and go outside for a little while. I really did not think anything about it just that maybe it had been shut up for a while.
Then my 10 year old son said something about it to me. I still just kind of dismissed it. Then my son started getting a rash every time we went camping. The first time the doctor said he must have got into something and we treated it with cream. Then the next time we went camping it happened again. We took him to another doctor and he really did not give us any answers. The next time when it happened again we were thinking this is so strange and it was starting to bother him physically. We took him back again and nothing was resolved.
He has asthma and I worry about the exposure to him. When winter came and we stop going camping he got better. I really would love to get our camper tested , can you guys lead me in the right direction?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stuck with trailer can't use

I purchased a Jayco travel trailer (model 29BHS) from Mt. Pleasant RV in May of 2005. We noticed an irritation in lungs and skin in June when temperature was in the 80's. I contacted Jayco and was told that it was formaldehyde and that it was required to be used in all new construction materials. We were also was told that if the camper was heated up with the furnace to 90 degrees or greater for two hours and then vented that problem would be taken care of.

I heated the travel trailer to 90 plus degrees 6 times and vented for two to three days between with no noticeable improvement. I contacted Mt. Pleasant RV in August 2005 and was told this was a common problem and that only solution was to vent camper 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Vented camper the rest of August and all of September and then closed it up for the winter. In April of 2006 I was contacted by Mt. Pleasant RV and told that Jayco acknowledged that there was a six-month period of campers manufactured that had above normal amounts of formaldehyde and was now recommending that I put a pan of ammonia in the travel trailer for two days and then vent to remove formaldehyde smell.

I did this two times with no noticeable improvement. I contacted Jayco via e-mail on April 24 2006 to see if there was any other solution to make the travel trailer usable and was told that this is a natural occurring problem with building products and to seek a remedy online and that the best cures are to ventilate and use a dehumidifier. After contacting them again via email and detailing the steps I had already taken I was told that they could provide me with a "Max air vent" that would allow me to ventilate the trailer 24/7.

I, however, do not consider this a solution since I will not be able to use either the furnace or air conditioning unit that I bought with the trailer if I have to vent it constantly. I have consulted with other travel trailer manufacturers and been told that although formaldehyde is required to be used in building products some Jayco campers have a much higher level than normal. I purchased this travel trailer with the expectation of being able to use it and I currently cannot. I believe I have made an honest attempt to work with Jayco on this problem that was obviously known by the manufacturer but never pointed out to me before I made the purchase and now I am stuck with a travel trailer that I cannot use.

Stephen Keeley, Claire, MI, stephenkeeley@hotmail.com

Monday, February 18, 2008

Formaldehyde victims should seek legal counsel

FEMA and CDC have yet to discuss the health risk of long-term exposures this dangerous toxic chemical agent may have on the hundreds of thousands who were unknowingly exposed. FEMA appears to be preoccupied with its own self-interests, and continues to ignore the facts that all trailer occupants may develop long-term health risks in epidemic portions.

As FEMA has not met it obligations to protect disaster victims from the dangers of formaldehyde in FEMA-provided housing, it is strongly suggested that anyone who has ever stayed in FEMA temporary housing protect themselves by obtaining competent legal counsel. It is suggested that the lawyer be licensed in the state where they were housed, as states may have laws that were violated. I will now be represented by John Arthur Eaves in all actions that may filed against FEMA, other government agencies, the RV industry, as well as others who have caused unnecessary future health problems to hundreds of thousands of victims. Please feel to contact the Eaves Law Firm at 1-877-328-3752. They will be more than happy to discuss the firm's role of seeking justice for hurricane FEMA victims.


JESSE JOHN FINERAN, Hurricane Katrina survivor and Hurricane FEMA victim, hurricanefema@gmail.com
Bay St. Louis, Miss.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

CDC\FEMA study on toxic trailer explained

Formaldehyde victims housed in toxic FEMA trailers and mobile homes were accustomed to test results being reported in parts per million (ppm). The testing that began in March 2006 by the Sierra Club, which first discovered the toxicity of the FEMA trailers, was reported in parts per million. The official testing that followed by the Environmental Protection Agency was also reported in parts per million. So when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its findings on February 14, 2008, reporting formaldehyde levels in parts per billion—not ppm—formaldehyde victims grappled to grasp a clear understanding of the newly released CDC test results.

Out of the 519 units that the CDC tested, an average level of 77 parts per billion (ppb) of formaldehyde was found. Technically this means that every one billion parts of air contained 77 parts of formaldehyde. Using an online conversion program, 77 ppb converts to 0.077 ppm. The highest level of formaldehyde reported was 590 ppb, or 0.59 ppm.

In order to determine if these levels are detrimental to occupant health, we must take into consideration the amount of time that a person actually spends inside the unit. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has set the following Indoor Reference Exposure Limits (IREL) to identify harmful limits of formaldehyde exposure relevant to the duration of exposure. For an eight-hour period, the OEHHA has set an indoor reference level of 27 ppb. This means that building occupants should not experience ill health effects, such as eye, nose, and throat irritation, from exposure to formaldehyde levels below 27 ppb provided exposure does not exceed an eight-hour period, according to the California Air Resources Board. Twenty-seven ppb converts to 0.027 ppm.

Lee Ann Billings, 865-963-6758, panda777@earthlink.net

Thad Godish, PhD, CIH, who is a professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Management at Ball State University and directs the university’s indoor air quality/indoor environmental research program, concurs that below 27 ppb may be a feasibly safe level of formaldehyde exposure. He states in MOLD: The War Within, a book on the health effects of Katrina authored by Katrina evacuees Kurt and Lee Ann Billings, “Studies by Australian scientists have shown adverse physiological reactions even at 0.05 ppm.” The Billings report, “Because of the findings of these studies, Dr. Godish cites 0.03 ppm as a ‘feasibly safe level’ of airborne formaldehyde.”

But what if a person occupies a building for longer than an eight-hour period of time? According to the OEHHA, in order to protect against irritation to the eyes and upper and lower respiratory systems, chronic formaldehyde exposure limits must be below 2.4 ppb. For this reason, the OEHHA has set a Chronic Reference Exposure Level for formaldehyde at 2.4 ppb. Exposure is considered chronic anytime occupant exposure is continual or for an extended period of time on a regular basis. Elevated levels of formaldehyde in a living environment could result in chronic exposure. Also, exposure can occur from two different indoor locations. For example, a child could be being exposed to elevated levels of formaldehyde in both his/her living environment, such as in a FEMA trailer, and in his/her school, such as in a portable classroom. Both of these types of structures are susceptible to elevated levels of formaldehyde, which if that was the case, would result in near-continual exposure to elevated levels of formaldehyde for the child.

In addressing acute levels of formaldehyde exposure, the OEHHA has toxicologically determined that eye irritation occurs at a one-hour exposure of 75 ppb. For this reason, the OEHHA has set an acute REL at 75 ppb. This means that it is physiologically proven that occupants will begin to experience negative health effects after one-hour of exposure to formaldehyde at 75 ppb. The average level detected by the CDC in the FEMA trailers and mobile homes was 77 ppb.

Based on the OEHHA reference exposure limits, FEMA trailers with just the average formaldehyde level of 77 ppb should not have been occupied for over a one-hour period, let alone used as a source of continual living space. Science justifies formaldehyde victims’ concerns regarding long-term health risks from exposure to elevated levels of formaldehyde in the FEMA trailers and mobile homes.

The director of the CDC, Julie L. Gerberding, MD, MPH, who is also the Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), led the press conference at which the FEMA trailer formaldehyde levels were released. She addressed the possibility of long-term health effects from exposure to the elevated levels of formaldehyde in the FEMA trailers, “With formaldehyde, the degree of risk from chronic exposure is still somewhat uncertain, but it is classified as a carcinogen, and we do want to be sensitive to the fact that people who spend a lot of time in their trailers could be at risk for cumulative exposure effects.”

In order to determine if evacuees housed in the FEMA trailers have negative health effects as a result of the formaldehyde exposure, Dr. Gerberding states that the CDC and FEMA will be working together to create a registry of the FEMA trailer and mobile home occupants so their health concerns can be assessed and to determine causality of symptoms. For more information on the health effects of formaldehyde exposure, people can call the CDC’s hotline, 1-800-CDCINFO, or refer to the book, MOLD: The War Within, which also documents avenues of detoxification and health restoration by leading experts in science, medicine, and nutrition such as Jia-Sheng Wang, MD, PhD, David Eaton, PhD, Regina Santella, PhD, and Udo Erasmus, PhD. For more information, see www.moldsolutions.info .

Friday, February 15, 2008

My name is Nikisha Bertao and I am currently residing in my parent's trailer with my 22 month old baby in California. I'm not a Katrina victim. However, my son and I have had reoccuring upper respiratory tract infections, to the point that the doctors are calling is temporary asthma. I seen the story of formaldehyde toxins found in trailers and I want to know how I would go about having the one I'm residing in checked. I'm concerned for my son's well being and my own. Please tell me what I can do.

Thank you,


Nikisha: I'd give you the same advice as the woman who wrote in the blog below. Test the trailer as soon as possible.


Should I be concerned about new RV purchase?

Just 2 weeks ago I bought a 2008 Keystone Cougar travel trailer. Should i be concerned about formaldehyde . This is the first time I hear about this happening with the FEMA trailers. My email adress is debbie.gallant@gmail.com.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.


Debbie: Do you have symptoms when going in it like burning eyes, respiratory problems, a strong odor? Read back in the archives of blogs and look for Marvin Motes blog on his very toxic Keystone. After two years he and his wife still can't stand to be in it. But I would hope that as a result of all the complaints the manufacturer has taken steps to reduce the formaldehyde content. Most of the RV manufacturers have now agreed to voluntarily adopt the HUD standards for formaldehyde but we think those standards are not sufficient and\or they aren't being enforced or there wouldn't be high formaldehyde levels found in FEMA mobile homes.

I'd suggest after spending this much money it would be a good idea to test the camper before occupying it. Kits to test trailers for formaldehyde can be purchased from Advanced Chemical Sensors, 561-338-3116. Cost: $34/kit. However, these test kits are badges meant to be worn in the workplace. What we have seen is that the numbers are lower than the expensive, more professional testing of trailers. And also the test results come in saying that below .1 ppm is okay when that is a limit for short term workplace exposure and not for someone with long term exposure. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recommends .03 as the maximum for intermediate duration (14-364 days exposure) and .008 for 365 or more days exposure.

Please let me know what you find out. Thanks!


Multiple Chemical Sensitivity from formaldehyde exposure?

I write books and produce/direct documentaries about people with a condition known as multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). I am interested in hearing from anyone who has developed MCS after moving into a FEMA trailer. A short way to describe MCS is to say that people who develop MCS begin to react with various symptoms to every-day chemicals like those in perfume, paint, gasoline, air fresheners, cleaning products, new carpet, cigarette smoke, etc. For more information about MCS, see the website of the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation, which I chair, www.chemicalsensitivityfoundation.org , or my personal website, www.alisonjohnsonmcs.com . On both websites, you can play my short DVD, Chemical Sensitivity: A 15-Minute Introduction.

Alison Johnson

Monday, February 11, 2008

cancer deaths from FEMA trailers?

My dad recently died from lung cancer after living in a FEMA camper for two years. He had just moved into his rebuilt home just four weeks before he died. My brother's wife died two months after dad; and, died from lung cancer as well. She had lived in a FEMA camper as well for two years. The day she died, FEMA was suppose to be delivering them a cottage. My daughter and her family had been delivered a camper, but could never live in it because the fumes were so bad, they burned our eyes and nose and made your skin hurt/itch when you walked into it. FEMA just told her to keep the windows open so it would air out. We kept the windows open in it for 6 months, but it was never habitable.

Judy Noble, jnoble@hancock.k12.ms.us

FEMA trailer worse than losing home?

My name is Kimberly Whitaker. I am currently living in a FEMA trailer. I live in New Augusta, MS, and I received my trailer in June of 2006. I was so excited when I received my trailer because we were quickly loosing ground financially. We had begun remodeling a home in February of 2005, but things went completely wrong after the hurricane. The progress that we had made was ruined and on top of that, the home that we were renting had damage as well.
Our landlords doubled our rent and we quickly started sinking in debt because on top of rent, we were paying house notes. We felt we were fortunate, and never thought about how bad our situation was. When we felt we had nowhere to go, we decided to apply for a trailer. We were thrilled to find out that we qualified.
During the time that we received our trailer, I was at summer break from my job as a teacher. Things seemed great. Well, as time went on and the school year began, I started having some health problems. I blamed these problems on stress and sought the opinion of the local medical clinic. During the next year, I fought sinus problems, headaches, and severe exhaustion.
We looked at every possible answer, but my living situation never came into question. I simply never thought to look in that direction.
I have also had the severe problem of mold growing in the trailer. Honestly, I thought this was my fault. I knew that condensation was a problem, but simply continued to clean up what I could of the mold that started to grow. It was hard to keep it away from the windows and parts of the walls. As time has gone on and now with winter this had gotten much worse. My clothes that must stay in the compartment under the bed always feel wet and some are growing mold.
Over the past year and a half, we have battled many of these problems, and I have missed a great deal of work. We would love to get out of the trailer, but unfortunately with our ruined credit and the rise in building materials, we are unable to fund the completion of our house. We are now in a situation that seems just as bad as when we began.

Kimberly Whitaker, kwhitaker@perry.k12.ms.us