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 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.

Becky