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, September 28, 2008

Congress softens FEMA trailer legislation

Bad news on the trailer front. In July the House passed HR 2638 with strong language in the FEMA appropriations bill that forced a careful analysis of the toxic trailer situation and formal recommendations. From what I can tell, this week the Senate modified the language to soften it as follows:

That the Inspector General shall investigate decisions made regarding, and the policy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency relating to, formaldehyde in trailers in the Gulf Coast region, the process used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for collecting, reporting, and responding to health and safety concerns of occupants of housing supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (including such housing supplied through a third party), and whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency adequately addressed public health and safety issues of households to which the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides disaster housing (including whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency adequately notified recipients of such housing, as appropriate, of potential health and safety concerns and whether the institutional culture of the Federal Emergency Management Agency properly prioritizes health and safety concerns of recipients of assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency), and submit a report to Congress relating to that investigation, including any recommendations.

No deadlines. No collaboration. But it is still helpful.

The Senate passed the bill on Saturday. It is on the way to the White House.

Tom Neltner


Friday, September 26, 2008

Formaldehyde has caused permanent damage to children

Here is a response on the Jennifer Donelson YouTube video linked on the right of this page:

The sad part is that I don't see the government doing anything to make things better. Chairman Waxman is talking about it but I don't see anything being done. Your son is beautiful. The saddest part of this video was the coughing in the background. It sounded to me like permanent damage has been done to more than one of your children. I will continue to pray for you and your family.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FEMA could buy safe trailers

All FEMA has to do is order to provide trailers to victims of Hurricane Ike is order trailers with Marine Grade Sealed Plywood, demand linoleum instead of carpet, and insist on adhesives without urea-formaldehyde resins and they would have safe trailers. All it takes is conscious manufacturing processes.

Paul Stewart

no trailers for Hurricane Ike victims

It is another sad fallout of the formaldehyde-in-FEMA-trailers debacle that it means there is now evidently little in the way of emergency housing for those who lost their homes in Hurricane Ike. An AP story today said: “Texas officials told Congress Tuesday they want all available FEMA trailers that do not have dangerous levels of formaldehyde. After the hearing, however, FEMA's deputy administrator, Harvey Johnson, said FEMA would provide some temporary housing for Texas but no trailers.”

It is good they aren't putting more disaster victims in toxic trailers, but out of the tens of thousands of trailers being stored—representing more than $2 billion spent by the taxpayers—it is an outrage than none of this housing is safe for people to live in.
Unfortunately, while FEMA is acting to protecting disaster victims, there are no protections for Americans who purchase RVs, mobile homes and other housing with equally high levels of formaldehyde. There are still no nationwide standards for formaldehyde. We continue to especially high formaldehyde levels in new Keystones travel trailers testing over .3 ppm. We are also getting high tests from some mobile homes and modular homes.

Becky Gillette

Friday, September 19, 2008

mosquito pesticides next assault on hurricane survivors?

FEMA has tasked USAF for mosquito control missions over south Louisiana. Within the targeted areas, there remain hundreds of thousands of Katrina/Rita survivors who became victims to the toxic exposure in FEMA trailers. What heath effects can be expected to these victims who continue to suffer from the ill effects of formaldehyde and will now likely be exposed to Dibrom/Naled?

I find the idea of FEMA using DOD aircraft to spray a toxin nerve agent (DIBROM/NALED) over disaster survivors, who were exposed to formaldehyde in FEMA trailers, alarming.

Will Dibrom/Naled MSDS be provided to FEMA victims who have acquired respiratory complications? Did CDC approve of this mission?

AP Times Picayune story about spraying Dibrom



failure to address earlier concerns with formaldehyde

I had a call from a man who used to work for the National Institute for Enviornmental Health in N.C. About ten years ago their new office building was so high in formaldehyde and other pollutants that people were getting very sick. So guess what they did? They moved people from those offices into trailers where the formaldehyde levels were even higher, and people got even sicker. Some died.

That was a decade ago but shows how the government failure to take note of this problem set the stage for the tragedy ten years later with 100,000 families being housed in trailers high in formaldehyde following Katrina and Rita.

And guess what? We still have no government standards to prevent this from happening yet again and again.

Becky Gillette

Thursday, September 11, 2008

FEMA takes flooded trailers without providing replacement

GUSTAV solves FEMAs housing problems; Cheroff uses this opportunity to make more femaldehyde victims homeless.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kathleen Johnson
Date: Tue, Sep 9, 2008 at 7:53 PM
Subject: The growing homeless inHancock County in the aftermath of Gustav.....
To: KatrinaVolunteersHancockCounty@yahoogroups.com

Tuesday September 9th 2008

There is no end of my understanding of man's inhumanity to man. Today a young family showed up here with 9 month old baby in tow - homeless. And why you ask - because FEMA towed off their FEMA trailer as it had been flooded due to Gustav. Now I understand the need to tow off the flooded trailers - but without finding a placement for housing for
these clients? Without figuring out if there was even a shelter for these clients? Without their Case Manager sitting down with them and, at the very least, giving them a flyer of where the available emergency housing might be? Come on - we have to be able to do a better job than this.

If it was the only homeless family left on the curb after FEMA towedthe trailer - yes I would understand. But we are seeing multiple families - young and old. And when I start to call around - I hear the same story over and over again. Yes there is a shelter at Langiappe but it is there for a "few days" with no promises. The men in one trailer, the woman and children in another - fractionalizing the family a a very stressful time.

So, will someone please tell me what we are to do with these families? Nothing has crossed my email box, not a message on my phone, not nothing. Stone cold silence.

Kathleen Johnson
Waveland, Ms.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

formaldehyde in children's furniture

This past June I set out to purchase new bedroom furniture for my daughters, ages 3 and 5. I had heard a little about the dangers of formaldehyde, so I made up my mind to NOT purchase furniture with particle board or MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) in it.

I went to some lengths to research furniture options--checking the websites of manufacturers such as Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod. I dismissed these retailers as options because they clearly listed particle board as part of the furniture construction.

I researched other children's furniture manufacturers, and found a manufacturer from Canada called AP Industries - whose website claims they are a "manufacturer of high quality bedroom furniture made of birch, for baby to adult." I liked the look of the product and was happy it was made from birch (no mention of particle board or MDF anywhere on their website:

I went to a high-end children's furniture store in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

- I told the salesperson who greeted me that I wanted all wood furniture.
- I expressed to her my concerns about particle board/MDF.
- She gave me information that said the AP Industries set was "solid wood and solid veneers."
- I told her I didn't want veneers because of my concerns about particle board.
- She explained to me that veneer was real wood, it was just "shaved very thin."
- What she neglected to reveal to me was that veneer was real wood that covered PARTICLE BOARD.
- From an in-store review, I could not see particle board as part of the construction of the model furniture. (I did not crawl on my hands and knees to look under it - or lift up the mattresses to peer at the supports.)
- I spent almost $4,000 on what I was told was high-end solid wood furniture.
- After the order was built and delivered to my home, I could clearly see-and smell-the particle board in the bed supports and when I took out the dresser drawers, etc.
- I called the store manager and told him that the info they provided to me said that the furniture was "solid wood and solid wood veneers."He said, yes - solid wood and solide wood veneers "over particle board."
- I told him that this was misleading and he agreed.
- I asked him to research whether formaldehyde was used in the glue in the particle board.
- He called the manufacturer and was told that parts of the furniture used"low end particle board" and parts "higher-end particle board." That is all the informatiion that the manufacturer had in regard to the materials used in their "high quality furniture."
- The contract I signed stipulated no returns on special orders.
- They refuse to do anything further for me.

I went online and conducted some searches on formaldehyde and testing - and came across information about the FEMA trailers. I purchased a formaldehyde test kit from Advanced Chemical Sensors, Inc. in Boca Raton. After we had had the furniture in place for one week - including "airing it out with the window open" as the store manager suggested - our formaldehyde test came back from ACS with a .078 ppm score. I learned through further research online, that this is on par with the average for the FEMA trailers (.077 ppm), testing as conducted by FEMA and the CDC.

It sickens me that I purposely set out to buy furniture without particle board, that the manufacturer has less-than-truthful claims and information on their website and in their product literature, that the store willfully misled me to capitalize on a sales situation (commission, etc.), and that now I have these extraordinary levels of toxins in a room where my daughters are supposed to sleep for the next 15 years. And I spent $4,000 on it all.

I would like to think that I am a fairly bright person and an astute consumer. I tried my best to research this purchase and ask the right questions at the store. I don't know what more I could have done. Aren't there laws against consumer fraud, or mis-representation of products? (Such as: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2002/03/16cfr250.htm)

I am at a loss as to what exactly to do next. If there is any advice or suggestion that you might make for me in regard to my personal situation with the toxic furniture, I would be greatly appreciative.

Thank you,
Renee Triemstra
Troy, Michigan

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

trailer salesman getting very sick

I just started a new job working for a RV center as a salesman. Although I have worked in sales for many years, I am new to this business. Having just completed my first week. I'm very worried about the fumes and orders inside the trailers and RVs. I'm really troubled by my burning eyes and throat. I am pretty certain it is caused by the strong nasty odors trapped inside the trailers. They come from the manufacture and are left locked up tight as a drum at all times except when we go in to show them. Therefore they are really hot and humid inside and the air inside them really smells nasty.

I have just completed my first week of training. I spend lots of time going inside new travel trailers studying the features so I can present them for sale to customers. There are many different features and sizes and floor plans, but they all have one thing in common. They have a very strong odor that is hard to take! Every day I go in them and every night when I get home I really notice I am having more and more problems with burning eyes and throat. Last night I woke up short of breath and sweating... I have never had any problems like this at work before. I am a healthy man. I don't smoke but I am concerned that I could have damaged my health already. I would like to keep this job if at all possible. The people are nice and there is potential to make a good living here.

Being located on the gulf coast, it is very hot and humid here. It often rains here so the company will not allow the windows or doors to be left opened on any of the trailers. It is so hot inside them that I can only stay inside for a few minutes (5-10) at a time. I feel faint and am wringing wet by the time I come out.

I am very concerned. I need this job so much but am worried about my health. I have just read one of the articles here that stated that heat and humidity amplify the affect of the exposure to these toxic fumes.

I am writing this at 4:30 in the morning because I woke up in a sweat and have a sore throat and burning eyes and shortness of breath. Will I become tolerant of these fumes or am I putting my life at risk working in this position? Who can advise me? Is there anything I can do besides quit? I like my job but I don't know if I am putting myself and others at risk by doing it. Please advise!



Dear B.J.: You are having the clear symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning. I can tell you that this problem has not been "fixed" even though the levels of formaldehyde were considered high enough earlier this year for FEMA to move everyone out of FEMA housing (although thousands of families decided to stay in the only home they have). The government has still failed to adopt any formaldehyde standards to protect people.

Trailer manufacturers testified in Congress they have been using the same materials and manufacturing processes for years. They evidently don't see the need to change anything.

We've been testing new travel trailers, and at least with the ones we are getting complaints about and testing, they have VERY HIGH formaldehyde levels. Some are testing at over .4 ppm or 400 parts per billion.

You are getting especially high levels because you are going into new trailers without air conditioning. The formaldehyde levels could be off the chart--above what OSHA would recommend even for short term exposure.

I know it is a tough decision, but if I were you, I would try to find a job that doesn't make you sick now and raise your risk of cancer long term. Insomnia is one of the symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning. And you have to recognize that you are selling a toxic product to people. That can't make you sleep well at night, either.

Becky Gillette
Formaldehyde Campaign Director
Sierra Club