They've been auctioned off to unsuspecting bargain hunters, and have been blamed for the deaths of two of their 100,000 residents: now the sad saga of the Gulf Coast's toxic Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers continues. A new Congressional report charges that FEMA manipulated scientific research in order to play down the danger posed by formaldehyde to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, many of whom are still living in the temporary trailers.
Formaldehyde gas has been linked to cancer, chronic bronchitis and other illnesses. It got into the trailers in the glues that hold the building materials together. It is one of the more pervasive VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
FEMA "ignored, hid and manipulated government research on the potential impact of long-term exposure to formaldehyde" for those living in the trailers, Democrats on a House Science and Technology subcommittee wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff this week, as reported by the AP. (FEMA is now part of the Homeland Security Department.)
In another letter, Congress charged federal health officials that advised FEMA in being "complicit in giving FEMA precisely what they wanted."
Although FEMA had received complaints of health problems resulting from the off-gassing of toxic formaldehyde, the agency said early tests concluded the indoor air quality was safe as long as things were properly ventilated.
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