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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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

FEMA drops testing requirement for new trailers

Housing no longer safe for disaster victims
At the same time that the U.S. has experienced an unprecedented number of natural disasters, FEMA has rescinded its requirement that temporary housing units purchased for disaster victims be tested for formaldehyde to make sure the housing is safe.
“Folks using these trailers have faced one of the worst crises of their lives; the last thing they should have to worry about is the health and safety of their families. FEMA has developed a sort of selective amnesia, they’ve forgotten that after years of denying formaldehyde was a problem in the FEMA trailers, testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed formaldehyde levels in the housing was so high that FEMA relocated all residents of the temporary housing in early 2008,” said Becky Gillette, director of the Sierra Club Formaldehyde Campaign. “FEMA later adopted standards requiring disaster housing be testing and meet formaldehyde levels that were safe. Now FEMA has changed course and is ignoring the lessons of the Katrina\Rita FEMA trailers while once again spending taxpayer money to purchase housing for disaster victims without ensuring that the housing is safe.”
Gillette said she spoke with Mike Grimm, FEMA Director of Individual Systems Division, on Oct. 3rd and Grimm confirmed that FEMA dropped the requirement for air quality testing for manufactured housing units procured for disaster housing. Grimm said that FEMA is just requiring that manufactured housing purchased by FEMA meet HUD standards for manufactured housing. FEMA, he said, is only buying mobile homes regulated by HUD, and not travel trailers that are not regulated by HUD. But CDC testing showed high levels of formaldehyde in both types of housing.
Without testing the trailers, FEMA can never know whether or not it is not repeating the mistakes it made after Katrina and Rita when formaldehyde levels in FEMA housing were so high they caused problems like breathing difficulties, nosebleeds, headaches, asthma attacks and an increased risk of cancer.
“The fact is that HUD has failed to take proper steps to protect consumers from high levels of formaldehyde in manufactured housing doesn’t excuse FEMA from its responsibility to provide safe housing for disaster victims,” Gillette said. “HUD doesn’t require air quality testing for mobile homes, and the manufactured housing industry has been successful in preventing regulations that would make manufacturing housing safe. CDC testing showed that formaldehyde levels could vary widely depending on the manufacturer. While we would hope that formaldehyde levels in trailers are lower than five years ago, FEMA should not play Russian roulette with the health of disaster victims by failing to test for formaldehyde.”
For more information on the CDC study that showed high formaldehyde levels in the trailers, see the website: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehhe/trailerstudy/assessment.htm#final.