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.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gulfstream tests at .420 ppm

I purchased a 2007 Gulfstream trailer in May 2007. After several weeks, I started to feel like I had a sinus infection, got a rash on my back, and had an uncontrollable cough. My doctor originally prescribed an antibiotic but it didn't touch it. A subsequent visit and blood test revealed I had acute myeloid leukemia with lung lesions that I attribute to formaldehyde exposure. The trailer this June (about one year later) tested out at .420 ppm. I've been through five rounds of chemoterapy and I'm somewhat better but I am wondering if any other people have been similarly diagnosed. If the FEMA issue hadn't surfaced, I wouldn't have known what hit me and probably would still now be endangering my family.

Steve T

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mickey Kizziah has passed away

Please say a special prayer for Mickey Kizziah, Gulfport, who even while seriously sick with pancreatic cancer was willing to speak out to the media about high formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers. Mickey passed away recently in the same stinking FEMA trailer high in formaldehyde that made him so sick and weak. Mickey's trailer tested .16 ppm in the summer of 2007. He was unable to get other housing even while dying. Rental rates are high and he didn't have a deposit, first and last month rent, and couldn't afford the monthly rates, either. His friend Roy who came to live with MIckey to help with his pain medication was also sickened by the formaldehyde.
Recently in the Oversight Committee hearings, some congressmen said the trailer manufacturers did no wrong because there were no formaldehyde standards in place. However, the trailer manufacturers have ignored this problem for many years, they have opposed formaldehyde standards, and in fact their defense at this hearing was they have been making housing just like this for many years. Gulf Stream tested their trailers being sent to house Katrina victims, and 100 percent were over the .1 ppm limit.
Pancreatic cancer is very painful, and MIckey suffered greatly. I've recently tested two trailers of another family in Moss Point where two family members have died of cancer and another is currently fighting cancer. Their two trailers are still testing very high at .205 ppm and .185 ppm. Another family that lost a father to brain cancer has also tested very high. And I'm currently getting test results from privately purchased RVs that are even higher! Some are testing over .4 ppm!!!
Don't tell me that the trailer manufacturers aren't responsible. As for the Congressmen who are defending them, they should be ashamed. If they want to preserve jobs in Indiana, then they need to clean up this industry so it stops killing people.

Becky Gillette

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

treating illnesses caused by formaldehyde poisoning

Many people who have been exposed to formaldehyde are having trouble finding physicians who know what kind of treatment to provide. I know some folks who are traveling long distances out of state to try to find good medical care. Dr. Albert Robbins, Deerfield Beach, FL (954) 421-1929, did a Master of Public Health thesis on formaldehyde before medical school. He says most people exposed to high levels of formaldehyde become chemically sensitive. They have adverse, allergic type reactions to many common chemicals like pesticides, paints, perfumes, etc. Extreme fatigue is common. Many people exposed to formaldehyde may be helped by being treated for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Dr. Robbins has a lot of good information about MCS at his website at www.allergycenter.com. His e-mail is albertrobbins@aol.com. People might ask their physicians in their home state to look at the treatment options Robbins discusses under the MCS portion of his website.
More information about MCS is also available at www.chemicalsensitivityfoundation.org and www.alisonjohnsonmcs.com. The book Chemical Exposure: Low Levels and High Stakes can be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/Chemical-Exposures-Levels-High-Stakes/dp/0471292400.


Monday, July 21, 2008

FEMA headed in right direction

I was pleasantly surprised at a FEMA briefing today on its new on National Disaster Housing Strategy Plan that it does seem that FEMA has learned some important lessons from Katrina and Rita. The importance of coordinating with state and local government agencies, and non profits, is really critical because they have the on-the-ground knowledge. Also, they acknowledge how different households can be, and how much their needs may differ. And it is a good idea to exhaust all other housing options before putting people in trailers and mobile homes and travel trailers. (But please, not cruise ships! That was really expensive and few people wanted that option).
The thing that is the greatest victory is that by FEMA requiring very low formaldehyde levels in both mobile homes and park models they purchase, plus any alternative prototype housing developed, FEMA could drive the housing market in the whole country to healthier building materials. Manufacturers will no longer be able to say that it isn’t possible to build manufactured housing that is low in formaldehyde. That could be an important benefit not just for disaster victims but for the millions of other Americans who live in manufactured housing.

Keystone hasn't fixed the problem

In the recent U.S. House Oversight Hearing, Rep. Issa from California said to the four trailer manufacturers that he was sure if a consumer had indicated their product was defective, the trailers manufacturers would fix the problem. The manufacturers agreed by nodding. However, THE FORMALDEHYDE PROBLEM HAS NOT BEEN FIXED! Some trailer manufacturers apparently are still selling trailers high formaldehyde to the public. I don't know of a single person who has written into this site with a travel trailer they have that is high in formaldehyde who has either been able to get their money back or the problem resolved. People are spending tens of thousands of dollars to get trailers that are making them sick. Trailers as old as 2002 and as new as 2008 are testing over .1 ppm.

This is from a family that recently purchased a Keystone travel trailer that recently tested at 0.23 ppm (230 ppb):

My husband and I have been living in a 2008 30' Keystone travel trailer since July 7, 2007. Initially, because of the weather, we were able to keep the windows open most of the time, and we took showers in another facility. Nonetheless, I was getting headaches and was more lethargic than usual. I attributed these symptoms to my low thyroid condition. Within 4 months we were traveling in colder, more humid climates, when my eyes began to get extremely irritated. They were ringed with red spots that became pustules, which would break, then reappear. Soon the itchy irritations traveled onto my forehead, down my face, neck and chest. My throat was also increasingly sore, and I developed a cough. Now I have those same painful, itchy pustules constantly on my ribs, abdomen and lower back. Occasionally, they still develop on my face, shoulders and upper arms. I frequently feel "sickish".

I can certainly connect these symptoms with living in the trailer, which is our home, because when I have visited friends and family, even overnight, the symptoms diminish. When I was gone for 10 days, I was significantly better. When we spent most of our time outdoors for 3 months in Arizona, the symptoms - especially respiratory - were not so bad. 11 months later, we are living and working in Colorado. The spring has been cold and wet and I am miserable. My husband does not appear to be much affected by this situation, but I surely am.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oversight Comm. hearing reveal extremely high formaldehyde levels

Testing done by the CDC this past winter revealed formaldehyde levels so high that FEMA decided to try to relocate everyone out of emergency housing as soon as possible. But many have wondered how much higher levels were when people first moved into the trailers two years ago because formaldehyde concentrations diminish over time.

Thanks to Rep. Henry Waxman and the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, we now know that manufacturers tested the trailers and found HUGELY ELEVATED levels of formaldehyde. See except below. These are levels of formaldehyde immediately dangerous to health.

Excerpt from executive summary http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20080709103125.pdf

The documents and interviews show that the trailer manufacturers received complaints about high formaldehyde levels in their trailers from hurricane evacuees and others and tested formaldehyde levels in both occupied and unoccupied trailers. The most extensive testing was conducted over two years ago by Gulf Stream, the largest supplier of FEMA trailers. Gulf Stream found formaldehyde levels at or above 100 ppb in every occupied FEMA trailer tested, with two trailers having levels over 600 ppb. The company found even higher levels — up to 4,000 ppb — in unoccupied trailers waiting to be deployed by FEMA. One contractor hired by Forest River to test a trailer in Illinois found formaldehyde levels above 1,500 ppb and advised the manufacturer to “post signs … stating ‘hazardous – do not enter.’”

Despite these test results, the trailer manufacturers did not warn trailer occupants of the dangerous levels of formaldehyde. Gulf Stream did not tell FEMA the company had found elevated levels of formaldehyde in occupied trailers or warn FEMA not to place families in its unoccupied trailers.

Dead bodies caused high formaldehyde levels?

The Journal Gazette published an article July 8 that quoted Indiana Rep. Mark Souder as stating that the high formaldehyde levels found in FEMA trailers “are not scientific because they didn’t measure the formaldehyde that was in the air. He said the petrochemical industries located nearby or even bodies floating in floodwaters might have been factors as well.”
This is a bizarre statement. The government testing of FEMA trailers was conducted this past winter—more than two years after Katrina. There were no dead bodies in the water. Major industry sources of formaldehyde are particleboard and plywood plants, and there are none of those in the area.
I can understand Rep. Souder wanting to protect jobs in Indiana. But as someone who has worked for nearly three years with families who have had numerous, serious health problems because of exposure to high formaldehyde levels, I can tell you there has been much suffering caused by the failure of our government to regulate formaldehyde.
This is not a problem confined to FEMA trailers, nor is it a new problem. We’ve tested RVs as old as 2002 with high levels of formaldehyde. This has also been identified as a problem in mobile homes, temporary classrooms and some modular housing.
To save jobs in Indiana and elsewhere, stop the flood of cheap Chinese wood products high in formaldehyde used to manufacture housing. Encourage the RV industry to adopt safer “green chemistry” alternatives like the composite RVs that Pilgrim International is starting to manufacture.
Rep. Souder would do the most good for this industry and the country by supporting legislation to require EPA to adopt formaldehyde standards so that people can be assured when they purchase a trailer, it is safe. The reason we're in such bad shape with a systemic failure to properly regulate formaldehyde is that industry representatives have used their political clout to prevent adequate formaldehyde regulations.

Becky Gillette

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Family sick in 2005 mobile home

Hi. I am looking for anyone who can relate to my story. After purchasing a double wide mobile home in 2005 my family started having many unexplained medical problems. First and foremost I started noticing my 3 year old daughter was staying sick with upper respiratory infections leading to pneumonia and even hospitalization.This continued on for a year until a doctor was so concerned with her chronic illness that she was tested for autoimmune disorders. You can only imagine my struggle with my little 3 year old all the sleepless nights praying and wondering what could be wrong with this little angel. In the mean time my son was 8 and he began having severe noose bleeds and sinus infections . So i am now asking myself what is going on? Within this time frame I also started having problems with shortness of breath and upper respiratory infections. I went to the doctor and now I was diagnosed with asthma. I had never had asthma or problems with shortness of breath but now the three of us are dealing with these unexplained illnesses. I questioned the doctors but no one wants to pinpoint our problems to formaldehyde. I am trying to find anyone who can help us.

Friday, July 4, 2008

No safe level of formaldehyde because of genetic variability

It is quite clear from the experience of people in FEMA trailers that there can be serious adverse health effects even at levels below .1 ppm or 100 ppb, which is often referenced as the maximum level of formaldehyde that people should be exposed. But that does not mean that .09 ppm or 90 ppb is okay or even lower levels. First, CDC testing has shown levels can vary widely throughout the day and the seasons of the year with levels much higher in heat and humidity. Second, tests are only accurate usually to within 10-25 percent so actual exposure could be higher than measured. Third, these levels were set for healthy adults, not fetuses, babies, the elderly or people with existing health problems. And fourth, people's metabolisms vary.

One the top formaldehyde researchers in the country, Jack Thrasher, Ph.D., Toxicologist, Immunotoxicologist, Fetal toxicologist,
says recent peer reviewed published research has demonstrated some pertinent information: "It has demonstrated that certain genes are responsible for the metabolism and detoxification of formaldehyde. Some humans have abnormalities in these genes and are more susceptible to the adverse effects of formaldehyde. Therefore, there can be no safe standards. The so-called 0.1 ppm standard by various agencies will have be reduced to account for this genetic variability in humans."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

pediatrician agrees HUD standards woefully inadequate

Here is a response from Dr. Scott Needle, the pediatrician who testified in Congress about the large number of patients he was seeing from FEMA trailers, regarding the formaldehyde standards:

I look forward to reviewing the study but, as you are no doubt aware, the HUD rule was set in 1984...

"In the final published rule, HUD recognized that the 0.4 ppm (indoor ambient) level would not be achieved at all times, and that it would not be possible to implement an HCHO (formaldehyde) standard that would protect the entire population. HUD concluded that currently available medical and scientific evidence does not adequately establish health benefits and a level below 0.4 ppm." (Emphasis added)

--Ritchie I and Lehnen R, Formaldehyde-related complaints of residents living in mobile and conventional homes. Am J Pub Health, March 1987, 77(3): 323-328.

The scientific and medical evidence since 1984 now very clearly supports a safe level well below 0.4 ppm (ambient, which HUD believed achievable with particle board kept to 0.3 ppm).

I agree the HUD levels are long overdue to be revised.


CDC chainsaw study is out

On July 2 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the final version of their study of 519 occupied FEMA trailers and also a structural study of four RVs (I call it the chainsaw study because they ripped these trailers apart to find out where the formaldehyde was coming from). The report should be up soon at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehhe/trailerstudy/.
The thing I found most interesting about the chainsaw study is that only one of the 45 travel trailer components tested was above the HUD standards for wood materials. This is very important because it shows that the HUD standards are far too lax. Formaldehyde levels in the travel trailers in the chainsaw study were VERY high ranging from 310 ppb to 789 ppb (0.31 ppm to 0.789 ppm). And these are RVs that are two to three years old!
CDC’s press release says, “But the findings are only applicable to those trailers distributed by FEMA in the Gulf Coast Region; they do not apply to other trailers in use elsewhere in the country.” But in fact this is a widespread problem with trailers for sale to the general public. People are buying these kinds of RVs and finding out too late that they can’t use them because of such high formaldehyde levels that they experience burning eyes, bloody noses, headaches and breathing problems.
While HUD doesn’t regulate travel trailers, it does regulate mobile homes. And the CDC testing also showed unacceptably high formaldehyde levels in many of the mobile homes. HUD should move quickly to strengthen its formaldehyde emission limits from particleboard and plywood. The present standard is woefully inadequate. Becky

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

toxic Keystone RV on YouTube

Toxictrailers has been getting quite a few serious complaints from owners of Keystone RVs, and several have tested very high. CHeck out the new YouTube video on Marvin Motes experience with his Keystone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqp9DQlNBrw

We recently retested Marvin's Keystone and it is even higher than his original tests more than a year ago! It came in at .435 ppm, which is more than four times over the recommended limit for short term exposure of .1 ppm.

Trailer manufacturers tell people bothered by burning eyes, bloody noses and bad headaches in new trailers that you can just air out the trailers and the problem will go away in a short period of time. But we have tested RVs as old as 2002 that are still over .1 ppm. Clearly, in at least some cases the problem can get worse over time.

Toxic trailers headed to Iowa?

FEMA has announced the it is sending mobile homes to the victims of the Iowa flooding. This is after FEMA tested the trailers deliberately trying to get low test numbers by cooling and ventilating the units. Experts say levels can be four to five times higher when you add heat and humidity.

If formaldehyde levels were so high in the trailers tested this past winter (when formaldehyde levels would be lower) that FEMA decided to move everyone out before summer, why are the same stock of trailers now considered okay to send to Iowa?

FEMA's buyback doesn't help everyone

There is a lot of us out there that don't fit FEMA's buy back. I bought my trailer after they came out with the truth about the formaldehyde but the dealer I bought it from bought a big bunch of them and that put him out of business. Therefore, I have no one to buy mine back and FEMA says, Oh, well, just live in it & die. I am 62 with Diabetes, Strokes and have noticed my eyes are watering and itchy real bad.
Can you help???

Marty: I have been strongly criticized for having links to attorneys on this web page, but what other recourse can I offer people like you? I'd suggest that you consider legal action as FEMA isn't going to buy back your toxic trailer. Ideally, you should find somewhere else to live. If that isn't possible, you should stay out of the trailer as much as possible, and consider keeping the air conditioner as low as you can with a window cracked open for ventilation. Avoid excess humidity from cooking and bathing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently studying different types of air filters, and hopefully a recommendation will be out on that soon.