What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Sunday, July 22, 2007

FEMA to test for chemicals in trailers

Posted on Sat, Jul. 21, 2007

The day after a House oversight committee discovered that FEMA had sloughed off reports that trailers provided to Katrina evacuees had dangerous levels of toxic chemicals, FEMA's chief said testing of trailers would begin Tuesday.

Evacuees have long speculated their health troubles were made worse by formaldehyde in the trailers, a notion bolstered this week with congressional testimony that FEMA knew about the threat but didn't investigate it. Hurricane victims living in government trailers on the Coast have said for nearly two years that they're getting sick from the trailers, but couldn't persuade FEMA to do any tests.

In a statement late Friday, FEMA administrator R. David Paulison said the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Health Affairs will conduct a preliminary field study that will test air quality conditions in "FEMA-purchased housing units under real-life conditions."

Paulison said testing would begin Tuesday.

"We are also looking into engineering solutions that may be available effectively to remove environmental pollutants from the trailers," he said.

In addition, he said FEMA would begin distributing a fact sheet today on formaldehyde and housing to the occupants of each FEMA travel trailer and mobile home in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas.

"This fact sheet will provide basic information about formaldehyde, its possible medical effects and contacts for further assistance," he said.

The new brochure also is available online at

Also today, FEMA will open a toll-free telephone line with operators from the CDC and FEMA available to answer questions about the formaldehyde issue and associated FEMA housing concerns, he said. The toll-free number is 1-866-562-2381.

FEMA provided more than 120,000 trailers to people displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Thousands of people still live in them, mostly in Mississippi and Louisiana.

On Thursday, documents released to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee showed FEMA lawyers discouraged the agency from pursuing reports the trailers had dangerous levels of formaldehyde, a chemical that can cause respiratory problems.

The formaldehyde complaints had sparked lawsuits before the congressional hearing, and more are likely.

In May, the Mississippi chapter of the Sierra Club issued a nonscientific report saying its tests revealed high formaldehyde emissions in dozens of trailers in Mississippi and Louisiana.
FEMA's response to questions from the Sun Herald at the time of the Sierra Club testing fly in the face of facts revealed in Thursday's congressional hearing.

The Sun Herald originally published the story on July 21, 2007.

Return to A.M. in the Morning! Home

No comments: