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, March 31, 2008

Blue babies: apnea monitor may save lives

I spent the first three months of my pregnancy living in a FEMA trailer in Pass Christian, MS. We moved out of the camper because I was so severely sick. I threw up all the time when I never experienced serious morning sickness with my first three children.

When my son Weslee Mashburn was born March 22, 2008, he appeared to be okay. Soon after giving birth, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. At three months, Weslee stopped breathing once and I snatched him up and he started breathing again. Another time we rushed him to the hospital because his skin turned blue.

Then at six months of age Weslee had a Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) experience. He stopped breathing for 20 minutes. We rushed him to the hospital, and he was revived but he suffered severe brain damage. Part of his brain died. He suffers 100 to 500 seizures a day and can’t swallow so he has a feeding tube. He has an apnea monitor. Part of his brain has died and turned back into liquid. He is in physical therapy and occupational speech therapy. What the doctors say now is he had some developmental delays that I didn’t notice.

Until recently I didn’t connect Weslee’s problems with the high formaldehyde levels that have been found in FEMA trailers. Then I heard Wanda Phillips on television talk about how her grandbaby had stopped breathing. I spoke with her later and Wanda said her granddaughter also turns blue. Wanda is also concerned her granddaughter clenches her fists all the time and holds her bottle with clenched fists. Weslee did this and the doctors said it could be a sign of developmental delay.

Wanda’s daughter Raven stayed with her mother on the weekends in a FEMA trailer and also at her mothers house that is located across the road from thousands of FEMA trailers at a FEMA staging facility. Raven became pregnant and was exposed to FEMA trailers during her whole pregnancy. Raven had difficulty carrying her child and was hospitalized and given medication to keep her from losing her baby. Raven did not have these problems with her first two children. Raven’s daughter is only four months so maybe she will grow out of turning blue. But seeing the other granddaughters with bloody noses and coughing makes the family apprehensive.

The son of Lindsay and Steve Huckabee of Kiln, MS, who was in a FEMA trailer while his mother was pregnant and for the first years of his life, also sometimes turns blue.

I started doing research and found studies by Dr. Jack Thrasher, who is a toxicologist/immunotoxicologist/fetaltoxicologist who has published a number of scientific studies in peer reviewed scientific journals. His research shows that formaldehyde is strongly mutagenic (can cause genetic birth defects) and teratogenic (can interfere with normal development of an embryo). When I asked him if what happened to Weslee could have been caused by the formaldehyde, he said, “Absolutely.” Dr. Thrasher wants to hear from other FEMA trailer families who also have babies who turn blue. He can be contacted at toxicologist1@msn.com. His phone number is 775-636-8513.

My main concern is women in FEMA trailers who are pregnant or who have a baby that spent time as a fetus in a FEMA trailer. Maybe if someone hears my story, they might be able to do something to save their baby’s life. People need to know that an apnea monitors for their child’s breathing could save their child’s life. If my child had an apnea monitor, he wouldn’t have been dead for 20 minutes and suffered all that brain damage.

Jennifer Donelson, Southaven,
Southaven, 228-265-2996

Monday, March 24, 2008

thousands exposed to formaldehyde may become chemically sensitive

The Chemical Sensitivity Foundation is concerned that many residents of the Gulf States may have developed the condition known as multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) because of their exposure to toxic substances during Katrina or Rita or from exposure to formaldehyde in FEMA trailers. People who develop MCS can no longer tolerate exposure to many everyday chemicals such as perfume, paint, gasoline, cigarette smoke, air fresheners, pesticides, cleaning products, or traffic fumes. Those who develop MCS also react to chemicals called mycotoxins that are given off by mold, which was of course a huge problem after Katrina and Rita.

For more information about multiple chemical sensitivity, please visit www.chemicalsensitivityfoundation.org. My personal website, www.alisonjohnsonmcs.com contains information about my books and DVDs on MCS, including my films Gulf War Syndrome: Aftermath of a Toxic Battlefield and The Toxic Clouds of 9/11: A Looming Health Disaster. The latter two films document the development of multiple chemical sensitivity among the Gulf War veterans and those exposed to the fumes from the WTC collapse and fires. It is only a matter of time until it will become apparent that MCS is now a problem for thousands who were caught in Katrina or Rita.

Alison Johnson

Friday, March 21, 2008

Congresswoman poisoned by formaldehyde

Statement from U.S. Representative Diane E. Watson (D-Los Angeles):

I’d like to share my personal experience with illness due to exposure to formaldehyde.

During my tenure as a member of the California State Senate, I moved into a new office. I was given new carpeting and it was put down with glue. They painted my walls and they brought in naugahyde furniture. Soon after I moved in, I became violently ill. I went to doctors in Sacramento and Los Angeles. I spent thousands of dollars of my own money to find out why my ears were tearing and red, my nose was running, my face was swollen, and my stomach was cramped. This happened over a period of months. I was subjected to all kinds of skin tests during that time, too.

I then found out that I was allergic to something called “formaldehyde.” I was not aware that the glue that is used to stick carpets and tiles to the floor has formaldehyde in it. It was a rude awakening.

One of my doctors sent a team of specialists to test the air in my office. They wrote me a six-page letter, single-spaced which outlined the cause of my problems. It was due to exposure to formaldehyde. I took that letter to the Rules Committee of the California State Senate. They said that I could have my office redone. But it would take two and a half years for the formaldehyde to gas out. Two and a half years is a long time.

As long as that substance is there in the component parts of a building, you are breathing it in. It will definitely affect your entire system, because it goes up into your T-zone, it affects your brain, it affects your concentration, it starts to destroy the brain. It could eventually kill you.

Since then, I’ve learned that formaldehyde can be toxic, allergenic, and carcinogenic. Because formaldehyde resins are used in many construction materials, formaldehyde is one of the more common indoor air pollutants. At certain concentrations, formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes , resulting in watery eyes. If inhaled, formaldehyde may cause headaches, a burning sensation in the throat, and difficulty breathing, as well as triggering or aggravating asthma symptoms.

I was a victim of formaldehyde exposure in that office environment. I know that others are being exposed to it and don’t even know it.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity from formaldehyde exposure?

Hi, I was intrigued by your site at toxictrailers.org. While I've never lived in a FEMA trailer, I did move into a brand new Palm Harbor double wide mobile home in 2001. Within 6 months, I became extremely ill with multiple chemical sensitivity. I realize my story isn't FEMA related, but if you're still interested, let me know and I'll be glad to supply the details.


FEMA trailers still being sold?

I have not been exposed to formaldehyde from FEMA trailers, but I do want you to know what I was told by an employee who works at the Illinois state and federal surplus warehouse facility in Springfield, Illinois (924 S. 10 1/2 St. 217-785-6903). While visiting there approximately 3 weeks ago, I was told that some of the items in the federal side of the operation were new, untouched overstocks from FEMA / Katrina, including, but not limited to thousands of plastic bottles of "expired" drinking water and FEMA trailers, for sale for only $3,000 each. I have no evidence of formaldehyde in those trailers, and in fact did not ask to see the trailers. My point... The feds may be selling more toxic trailers quietly throughout the U.S. at such facilities, off the radar.

I hope you find this of interest.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Health survey for Katrina\Rita survivors

Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) and Partners Publishing LLC Join Forces to Give Hurricane Victims a Unified Voice and Provide Statistical Data
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, March 12, 2008 —Hurricanes Katrina and Rita impacted the health of many individuals: residents, disaster rescue and recovery personnel, remediation and rebuilding specialists—the list goes on and on . . .   Now affected individuals can stand up and have their health concerns counted. Two organizations, Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) and Partners Publishing LLC, have joined forces to launch “The 2008 Nationwide Hurricane Katrina and Rita Health Survey,” which is located online at www.partnerspublishing.org . The nationwide survey will provide statistical health data on not only Gulf Coast residents but also on evacuees, volunteers, and workers that are scattered across the nation. A Spanish version of the survey will be available no later than Monday, March 24, 2008.
The primary purpose of the survey is to identify the current health status of individuals whose physical and psychological health remains negatively impacted from exposures to flood waters, hurricane sediment, water-damaged buildings, mold, formaldehyde and/or mold in FEMA-provided trailers, mobile homes, or park models, and/or other contaminants incurred during and/or after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and/or from other contaminant-laden post-hurricane housing. The secondary purpose of the survey is to identify the total number of people who have become physically and/or psychologically ill since hurricanes Katrina and Rita to assist in identifying health trends, patterns of illnesses, and geographic clusters of increased levels of illnesses. For this reason, the survey seeks to identify individuals by exposure location, health status, and current residence as well as to assess the level of health-enhancing information desired by affected individuals.

Monday, March 10, 2008

husband killed by particleboard in waterbed

This problem has been known about as far back as 1984. My husband became disabled from the formaldehyde in the boards that his waterbed was made from. People made jokes about it then, but he got an infection in his sinus that went to his brain. You can imagine the rest. He was 52 and never worked again in his life. They should have known better in those trailers! We were told that the boards (4 x 8) had to be "cooked" and that they didn't cook these boards enough to dry up the glue. My husband passed away this summer. He never got a chance to live a full life again. Thank you, Betty Vaughn (Brv01@aol.com)

like trailer but not the burning eyes and health effects...

I purchased a Passport Ultralite made by Keystone, and have tried everything under the sun to get the burning of eyes etc. out of this trailer. This is very disappointing. Is there anything I can do as we like the trailer but don't want to effect our health or the health of our grandchildren and children. Any help would be appreciated. I feel the manufacturers of these should be made accountable, but I guess since we can't make the tobacco industry accountable, then how are we going to make these manufacturers accountable?
Thanks for listening. Larry from South Louisiana. My e-mail is larryhobby@yahoo.com.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Far from LA but not from formaldehyde...

I live far from Lousisiana, but not far from formaldehyde. You see, I live just two blocks from Plum Creek Lumber in Columbia Falls, Montana. In 2006 the plant released 464,250 pounds of formaldehyde through air emissions according to EPA records. That's 1,272 pounds a day! And the fiberboard plant is directly across from my 3rd grade son's school....

Please share my story.

Thank you,
Rene Ferretti
Po Box 1471
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

Thursday, March 6, 2008

manufacturers to blame

On Wed, Mar 5, 2008 at 7:39 PM, Edward Peterson wrote:
Send all those FEMA trailers back to the manufacturers and demand the taxpayers money back. The trailers were produced with an illegal substance in their walls and the manufacturers must bear responsibility for ignoring the law.

new home contaminated

On Wed, Mar 5, 2008 at 4:31 AM, Robert Richardson wrote:
It is not only found in RV's. You can smell it in our new house. I have nasty breathing problems which I attribute to chemicals in the environment. What are we doing to my little grandchildren when they visit? The building industry only cares about profit regardless of toxicity. Bob Richardson, Apopka, FL

poisoned by formaldehyde in CalEPA building


I had worked at the CalEPA bldg in Sacramento for several years and ended up having to find a new job due to formaldehyde exposure there. The management would do nothing about it. I have lots more info, including some air sampling data, and contacts of several of the 100+ employees that experienced breathing difficulties, migraines, and skin rashes due to the toxic exposure to formaldehyde and other VOCs in that building. I hope you contact me. This needs to end. (use of toxics in bldg materials) Thank you so much.


P.S. I even "won" a workers comp case against them.

had to sign statement that knew formaldehyde was in mobile home

This has nothing to do with the tragic FEMA story, but I bought a manufactured home where I had to sign a statement that I knew formaldehyde existed in my new home. It's a 2000 Liberty manufactured in Sheridan, Oregon in 2000. They assured me the level met the regulations set by the feds. I have'nt ever noticed any 'signs' of being affected by the formaldehyde,but my cat and dog were very leery about coming in. The cat took six yrs. to come in. I figured it was because it was a new home they had never seen or been in. Could you tell me if what I signed was true and what are the 'signs' of formaldehyde poisoning. If you could email me any information on this subject, I would surely appreciate it.

No where for trailer people to go...

On Tue, Mar 4, 2008 at 5:31 PM, MARCIA K FELLOWS <1-flowers2@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
To Whom It May Concern: What's the benefit of sheltering people with toxic trailers? FEMA, you are lagging behind, again. Your plan is to get these very same people out of these toxic trailers to go where? There isn't any more housing available for them and what was there's is gone? Who is running this circus anyway? What can supportive people or groups do to help; create the solutions? How can these trailer people help their own cause? Let me know, please. Marcia K Fellows

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Formaldehyde problem has been around for 30 years

As a former Dealer for Jayco, Springdale by Keystone, Prowler By Fleetwood, Pilgrim and Open Road both by Pilgrim International for the last 40+ years I can tell you this problem with formaldehyde goes back at least 30 years. The units would come from the manufactures with warning stickers affixed to the medicine cabinets mirror warning potential customers of the formaldehyde used in the building process, and the risks associated with formaldehyde.

Roughly 10-12 years ago those labels seemed to have disappeared from the units. The formaldehyde symptoms did not. We would advise our customers to air the units out for at least a full week to dissipate the fumes into the atmosphere. We kept the doors on our lot units open to try and relieve the burning eyes from prospective buyers. Even after 2-3 years, the left over units still had the same strength and intensity as newer units coming into the dealership. Speaking to the manufacturers about this problem, we were advised that the fumes would expel from the units given enough outside air entering and exiting them.

The problem on this matter goes well beyond the FEMA trailers! Now that 130,000 units have been purchased and delivered to one part of the countries population, the problem and truth is finally being brought to the spotlight! It does strike me funny that the manufactures would not let me sell a unit to be lived in full time. We were always told that the units were recreational vehicles, meaning part time use only. They would not warranty any unit being used as a full time residence.

ALL units being built, and sold to the public suffer the same formaldehyde problems. Around 1990 the manufactures had to scramble because the economy was in a recession, and they needed to find a way to combat a new line called Dutchmen that was the cheapest unit on the market. Low and behold, solid wood was being replaced with vinyl wrapped particleboard, in the flooring, and cabinets. The vinyl flooring was being cut under the carpeting, exposing the particleboard to the living areas. The foam padding was taken out of the units. Smaller and fewer windows were used, less roof vents being put into the units. Meanwhile, the pricing on the units did not lower, and the manufactures profits increased.

Within 5 years of the Dutchmen introduction, all the manufacturers were building low end cheaply built units. These manufactures know what type of health risks they are subjecting the consumer. All they care about is selling you one unit, they no longer care about loyalty. The average mark-up from manufacturer to consumer is approximately 40-45% on the window sticker of a new unit. With the manufacturer making more money selling the unit to the dealer, than the dealer selling it to the consumer.

Wait until the formaldehyde issue is raised once again with the Manufactured Housing contract that was just awarded to Fleetwood by the U.S. Army. Read Fleetwods latest press releases. These manufactured homes are built out of the exact same materials that the trailers are built with!

I think the Government will try and take the blame for this unfortunate situation with these units, but the problem has been blowing around for a very long time, and the manufacturers, not the government, should be held responsible for the health risks these folks have been put in.

2005 Jayco has obvious formaldehyde problems

Dr. Scott A. Newquist, dr.newquist@yahoo.com, Chiropractic Physician, Certified Personal Trainer

To Whom it May Concern:

I have a 2005 Jayco Jayflight 31 BHS with obvious formaldehyde fume problems. I have just ordered two separate test kits for measuring the levels of gas inside the trailer at different temperatures. I am very concerned for the health of my young son and wife, both of whom have asthma, allergies and chronic recurrent respiratory infections since the purchase of the trailer. I have exhausted the "remedies" given by the dealer and online advisors to no avail. Where do I go from here? Our dealer plays dumb, Jayco denies any problem with fumes and I just want a trailer that's not toxic and potentially a hazard.

Dr. Scott Newquist

Monday, March 3, 2008

CDC findings are out

The CDC has released preliminary results of its testing of trailers, park models and mobile homes purchased by FEMA for disaster victims and the most striking thing is that all the brands had some high levels in the tests. This dovetails with Sierra Club testing of 17 different models that found at least one high test for each model.

Go to this link to read the study: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehhe/trailerstudy/

An excerpt: "The GM (geometric mean) formaldehyde levels varied significantly between between travel trailers, park models, and mobile homes, but a wide range of formaldehyde levels were found in each of the three types. All three types contained some units with levels that were elevated (Table 1) relative to usual U.S. background levels (i.e., levels to which persons typically are exposed during daily life, typically 10- 30 ppb in indoor air).

"The travel trailer brands Gulfstream, Keystone, and Pilgrim were not significantly different from each other but each showed statistically significantly higher levels of formaldehyde than the other travel-trailer strata combined. After adjusting for smoking, windows being open, temperature, and humidity, Forest River travel trailers also had significantly higher formaldehyde levels as compared with all other travel trailers combined."

THE REALLY IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER is these tests were done at the coldest time of year when formaldehyde levels would be at their lowest level. And people weren't allowed to be cooking or bathing because formaldehyde levels would be higher. Under real life use of these trailers, formaldehyde levels would have been even higher.