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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

12-year-old FEMA trailer victim has leukemia

The Hattiesburg American has reported that a 12-year-old girl who lived in a FEMA travel trailer and then a FEMA mobile home has acute myeloid leukemia, which has been linked to formaldehyde exposure. The family of Brittany Whittington, who is given a 40 percent chance of survival, is struggling to take care of her while paying medical bills and living expenses.

The article says: "The bills are mounting up and we're finding it tough to pay these expenses and still keep up with such things as their home and auto payments," Knight said.
There are a number of ways that people can choose to help the Whittington family.
"Brittany is a very sweet and very scared 12-year-old girl," Knight said. "Cards and letters of encouragement go a long way to brighten her day."

One thing the really bothers me about the recent Inspector General report criticizing FEMA for failing to respond to the problems with formaldehyde in FEMA housing is that names of the people who covered up and delayed for FEMA were not named and are not being required to take responsibility for their actions. Names aren’t used (like the name of the person in FEMA who received results of Sierra Club tests showing high formaldehyde levels two years before FEMA took action), only titles. No one who is responsible for Brittany’s illness and the illnesses and deaths of many others has so much has had a hand slapped. Meanwhile, families struggle with medical bills and the anguish of lives cut short.

Brittany needs a lot more than a get well card. The government and trailer manufacturers need to be held accountable, and provide health care and other compensation to the poisoned families.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Homeland Security report vindicates whistleblowers

The Homeland Security report on FEMA mishandling the formaldehyde problems in FEMA trails is vindication for the many folks who have posted their stories on this website about suffering from the effects of formaldehyde. These concerns were ignored for two years, and people got sick and some died as a result. It shows there were also well-intentioned people in FEMA who tried to do the best for the people who were suffering, but the FEMA employees were reprimanded and told to downplay the problems.

The report has page after page of information that details just how badly FEMA screwed up. One thing that is interesting is that a FEMA attorney was the FEMA contact (instead of a health and safety officer) and had input in the EPA testing. Those tests showed high formaldehyde levels but still nothing was done for another 16 months or so. We had to do a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filing to get these test results released. A news organization earlier tried to get the results of the formaldehyde tests, and was denied that information.

Quoting from the report: A news network submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the formaldehyde testing results.
FEMA attorneys took the position that:
“The testing was undertaken because FEMA was sued.... The testing is covered under the following exception to FOIA #5 and has been prepared in anticipation of litigation and is covered under deliberative process privilege, the attorney work product privilege and the attorney client privilege.”

However, the decision to do the testing was done BEFORE the lawsuit was filed so this was not a valid reason for denying this information.

We can only hope this report adds to the government’s incentive for settling the lawsuits instead of letting this drag on for years without victims being compensated for being damaged more by FEMA’s formaldehyde than Katrina and Rita. Many have been very harmed not just physically but financially by the high medical bills that have made it so difficult to recover from the storm.

And let's remember. A large number of people are still living in these trailers, and have no choice of other housing. This problem has been particularly hard on the elderly, disabled, and families with young children.

And right now hundreds of these FEMA trailers are being sold by the government to the public on a weekly basis. Supposedly people are being warned about the potential formaldehyde problems, but most will not understand the risk--especially to the most vulnerable people. And trailers can then be resold again and again to unwary consumers.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dept. of Homeland Security report critical of FEMA response

In light of today's Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General report, "[Federal Emergency Management Agency] Response to Formaldehyde in Trailers," Sierra Club Formaldehyde Campaign Director Becky Gillette issued the following statement:

"Today's inspector general report is vindication for the Sierra Club's early and persistent efforts to draw attention to the issue of toxic formaldehyde in FEMA trailers. Sadly there is no vindication for the thousands of disaster victims who were forced to spend months living in dangerous conditions while the Bush administration dragged its heels.

"Today's report accurately credits the Sierra Club as the first group to discover the toxicity of FEMA trailers, and I am proud of our leading role in fighting for better disaster assistance and emergency housing for all Americans. Nearly two years before FEMA finally admitted its formaldehyde problem. Sierra Club testing in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama showed that 88 percent of tested trailers had formaldehyde levels above the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recommended limit.

"Sierra Club supports the major conclusions outlined in today's report and calls for the swift implementation of the Inspector General's communications and emergency preparedness recommendations. With the 2009 hurricane season well underway, it will take decisive action to safeguard communities if disaster strikes."

To see the entire report, go to the link under Toxic Trailer News.