Are FEMA Trailers Making Residents Sick?
Bay St. Louis, MS
A 2006 internal document of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) labeled "FEMA Job Hazard Analysis" warned that certain employees would encounter health risks as severe as cancer as a result of contact with formaldehyde exuded by components of emergency trailers, thousands of which were used as residences by refugees of Hurricane Katrina.
Michael Rey reported that CBS received a response to its FOIA request in less than seven weeks ("FEMA's Own Documents Tell The Formaldehyde Story," 5/16/07, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501263_162-2819463-501263.html).
Hurricane Katrina, FEMA, formaldehyde, health, refugees, Mississippi, residents, trailers, FEMA trailers
FEMA/formaldehyde-exposure stories led to a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on July 19, 2007, and a subsequent hearing on July 9, 2008, which revealed that the main manufacturer of trailers had known of the formaldehyde-related risk as early as March 2006, but failed to alert either FEMA or trailer occupants to the dangers. The Union of Concerned Scientists also analyzed the data and the story in "FEMA Exposes Gulf Coast Residents to Formaldehyde," (12/19/07, http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/abuses_of_science/fema-exposes-gulf-coast.html). FEMA trailers also returned to the public eye after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, when some trailers were used as housing for cleanup workers. See "Banned Trailers Return for Latest Gulf Disaster," New York Times, 7/1/10, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/01/us/01trailers.html, and "ND tribal member questions FEMA Trailers," Associated Press, 6/29/10, http://kxnet.com/custom404.asp?404;http://kxnet.com/News/Dakota/595414.asp.
Return to front page