WASHINGTON - JULY 25 - In the face of massive public outcry, FEMA has decided to re-evaluate its decision to continue selling trailers known to have unsafe levels of formaldehyde. Trailer residents and the Sierra Club have been pressing the agency to acknowledge the problem of formaldehyde outgassing in the trailers and to stop distributing the trailers until the agency could ensure that all trailers going out were safe. Dangerously high levels of formaldehyde found in many FEMA trailers have caused serious health problems for many trailer residents and are even suspected as the cause of several deaths.
"Iím pleased that FEMA is going to finally use some common sense and review their decision to continue selling trailers that they know are potentially dangerous. No trailers should be sold or donated until the agency has completed their testing to make sure that unknowing victims are not being exposed to unsafe levels of formaldehyde.
"FEMAís track record on this issue is far from good. They willfully ignored complaints of people suffering from formaldehyde exposure; they refused to investigate formaldehyde outgassing, despite the advice of their field staff to do so; and they manipulated testing conditions in the trailers to sway the results and present a minimized risk of formaldehyde exposure.
"FEMA should use this review process to stop acting in its own best interest and start acting in the interest of the public health by halting the sale and distribution of the trailers until the agency has tested them to ensure they are safe. To guarantee safe emergency housing the future, FEMA should buy trailers made with safer alternatives to the formaldehyde-based glues which cause this health threat."
As the first group to discover the toxicity of FEMA trailers, the Sierra Club has taken a lead role in fighting for better disaster assistance and emergency housing. Testing by the Sierra Club in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama showed that 88 percent of trailers tested in 2006 and 2007 had formaldehyde levels above the EPA's recommended limit. Even the EPA's own testing showed that FEMA trailers had average formaldehyde levels three times higher than the EPA standard. Tests currently being conducted by the Sierra Club and Texas Wildlife and Parks on FEMA trailers in Texas are also showing high formaldehyde levels.