Warehouse C
Toxic Fumes
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Egad! Formaldehyde In FEMA Trailers!


By James Donahue


We have all known for years that new homes and mobile homes constructed mostly of plywood, plastics and other artificial materials simulating wood and metal are lased with glues and bonding material comprised of formaldehyde.


And because it is in the wood, the carpeting, the counter tops, the furniture and just about everything else used in putting new homes together, the people who live and work in these buildings are exposed to toxic fumes that constantly leach out into the rooms.


Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and it causes a lot of other physical problems in people who have excessive exposure.


This is all well known. But it is something that builders and probably our government has been keeping under wraps because it involves big business interests and big money issues.


So why should we be surprised that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is suddenly moving all those families out of the hundreds of trailers moved into New Orleans and other towns along the Gulf Coast to replace homes leveled by Hurricane Katrina?


It seems that people living in those trailers were getting sick with asthma and other chronic conditions. Some complained of headaches and nosebleeds. And that prompted the CDC to test the air in some 519 of the suspect trailers. All were found to have heavy concentrations of formaldehyde fumes . . . at levels nearly 40 times the amount considered acceptable. As if any amount of formaldehyde can be acceptable.


FEMA brought in about 120,000 travel trailers to provide temporary quarters to victims of the 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Some people have since moved out, but the process of rebuilding homes along the coast has been incredibly slow and people are still depending on the trailers for housing.


The question now is where will these people move next? Only last week we heard a report that some families were still living in tents and camps under highway bridges. This fact was mentioned by former presidential candidate John Edwards when he announced he was withdrawing from the race.


The irony to all of this is that the only solution is construction of new housing units, possibly government funded. And because there is a critical shortage of lumber and other building materials, guess what such units will be made of?


You guessed it, more plywood, plastic and other materials containing formaldehyde.