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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.

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.”