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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.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

classroom trailer making teacher sick

Dear Toxic Trailers:

For the past two years I have been teaching in a very poor duplex trailer. By the end of second period my eyes look as though I have been on an all night drinking binge. But more importantly, I feel as if I have become completely ADHD - I lost all ability to concentrate for long periods of time. This makes it difficult to teach and grade. I have been teaching for fifteen years, and I moved into a trailer when my district transferred me to another high school mid year to replace a fired teacher. It is not a new trailer, but has been in district for a long time and moved around from school to school depending on population.

Is there something I can do such as paint over the walls with kilz or anything? I have requested an inside classroom, but no luck.

Thank you for your reply.


Marianne: Unfortunately, we have found that formaldehyde levels can remain at unsafe levels even after ten years. It is a myth that the formaldehyde just evaporates. I know other teachers who filed complaints with OSHA and either got settlements or were moved inside. Unfortunately, in one case the inside classroom had been remodeled with toxic materials and also made the teacher sick (the teacher may have developed Multiple Chemical Sensitivities by then).

It appears that poor quality trailers are the worst...as they age, they can get leaks and mold that alone are a major health problem, and combined with increased formaldehyde outgassing are even worse.

Here is one paint product that can be used to seal in formaldehyde. I can’t guarantee it will make your classroom trailer safe. Sad to think all your students are also being exposed to a toxin that can make it difficult for them to concentrate and lead to serious health problems.


Safe Seal
Safecoat Safe Seal is a multi-use, waterbased, low gloss sealer for highly porous surfaces such as particle board, plywood, processed wood and porous concrete. Used primarily to reduce toxic outgassing: in particular, it is highly effective at sealing in formaldehyde outgassing from processed wood such as plywood, particle board and pressed wood. Safecoat Safe Seal is virtually odorless on application and odorless once cured.