Thursday, July 19, 2007



RV Business
Thursday, July 19, 2007

On the eve of a U.S. House hearing on the possible health hazards of formaldehyde in hurricane-relief trailers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for help Wednesday (July 18) in testing the air quality in the trailers.

The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion Ledger reported that lawmakers in Washington, hurricane victims and environmental groups in Louisiana and Mississippi have been pressing FEMA to test the trailers' air quality because they fear they have toxic formaldehyde levels.

FEMA has maintained the trailers are safe if properly ventilated. But it looks like the agency is bowing to congressional pressure.

"Although tests of air samples from travel trailers in the Gulf Coast have demonstrated that ventilating the units is effective in reducing levels of formaldehyde, the health and safety of residents is FEMA's primary concern," a statement released Wednesday said. "FEMA believes additional research is needed to address recently raised inquiries and concerns."

FEMA Administrator David Paulison is scheduled to testify at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing today on possible problems formaldehyde is causing to thousands of families living in trailers nearly two years after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the head of the panel, had threatened to subpoena FEMA for its records of health studies on the trailers and complaints by trailer residents. But Waxman backed down after FEMA began to cooperate with his committee.

Formaldehyde is a toxic chemical that is released by many construction materials, including plywood and spray-on insulating foam. Elevated levels of formaldehyde gas can cause headaches, burning eyes and throats, nausea and difficulty breathing, according to the CDC.

FEMA said studies of the air quality in trailers "will take a two-phased approach, with an initial more rapid study and an in-depth, longer-term study to give us a better understanding of the complete issue."

The CDC is being asked to provide an estimate of how much formaldehyde is safe. Until now, the CDC has said it has no authority to regulate or test formaldehyde levels in trailers.

FEMA also said it has asked the CDC to focus on the effect of high formaldehyde levels in children.

"They're grudgingly moving to accept reality," said U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-La. "They should have moved a lot sooner."

Also testifying at today's hearing will be Gulf Coast residents who say they or their children have suffered from ailments they think are linked to formaldehyde in their trailers.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?