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, December 4, 2008

MEMA cottages to be tested for formaldehyde

In May Sierra Club released test results showing levels of formaldehyde are a problem in some of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Cottages that were developed as an alternative to FEMA trailers used for housing after natural disasters. At that time MEMA said they would test for formaldehyde soon. But a Sun Herald article published today (see article under news links on the lower right) says MEMA hasn't yet done testing, but plans to begin soon testing. However, they are only testing unoccupied units, and they are testing in the winter when low humidity and temperatures will produce the lowest possible formaldehyde readings. They are also testing some units that have had systems added to improve ventilation.

There are 2,800 families in MEMA Cottages, some of which were built by Forest River, identified by the CDC as one of the manufacturers of FEMA housing with the highest formaldehyde levels. Testing unoccupied, likely unheated units in the winter will give no idea what formaldehyde levels are in the cottages in the summer with people living in them. Formaldehyde outgassing increases dramatically with heat and humidity.

FEMA tested unoccupied FEMA mobile homes before sending them to victims of Iowa flooding earlier this year, and said the mobile homes were below .04 ppm. But later when the mobile homes were occupied, many tested over .1 ppm. Some residents reported the same illnesses (burning eyes, sinus problems, rashes, headaches, etc.) as experienced by the Katrina\Rita FEMA trailer occupants.

The government spent nearly $300 million on MEMA cottages. Right now cities across the Mississippi Gulf Coast are considering proposals to allow the MEMA Cottages as permanent housing. Testing needs to be done of occupied units, and remediation (such as the better ventilation systems) added if the testing confirms high formaldehyde levels.