That was the ahppy message to numerous families from the feds today. Specifically it was FEMA telling displaced Katrina refugees that their government-provided travel trailers contain unsafe levels of formaldhyde. In testing by gthe federal government at least 5% of the trailers had off-gassing severe enough to cause respiratory problems.
How big is the problem? Well, there are 35-thousand trailers still occupied by displaced persons from Katrina back in 2005. Many of these folks have lived in these trailer for over two years. FEMA says it will move people out as fast as possible. Keep in mind it's already been over 2 years since the hurricane.
Late last year I blogged about some of the trailer-people suing the government over health problems they blamed on the trailers.
Formaldehyde's possible nasty effects on the human body are not secret, nor new. We knew about this BEFORE there was an Internet. I blogged last November about FEMA barring its own employees from entering unsued trailers that had been left closed up. Why? Formaldehyde toxicity. At that time I pointed out how widespread the use of fomaldehyde is in manufactured wood products, resins, glues, permanent press fabrics, foam insulation, etc. In can be in furniture, or in a bulding. So many prefabricated materials and builidngs contain formaldehyde. It can be smelled.
Formaldehyde is also a by-product of combustion of tobacco and wood. Venting of wood-buring appliances is extremely important.
Here's how the California EPA describes formaldehyde: "Formaldehyde is a common indoor air pollutant found in virtually all homes and buildings. It is a colorless gas with a pungent odor, and at elevated levels is highly irritating to the eyes, nose, and lungs. Formaldehyde is released into the home from a variety of indoor sources, including plywood, particleboard, and other pressed wood products, and many consumer products."
The Cal-EPA goes so far as to say you should buy antiques not new furniture, wash any permanent press fabric before using or wearing,land generally avoid urea-formaldehyde products. Oh, and don't smoke inside.
Even some fingernail cosmetics contain formaldehyde. There could be formaldehyde in your wooden cutting board. The FDA does not deem that to be a health hazard.
Here's the CDC's website on formaldehyde's health effects.
There are some companies now focused on making formaldehyde-free building products and furniture. One I've blogged is Ecotimber. Here's information on a pre-fab home that is formaldehyde free.