FEMA provides toxic trailers for hurricane refugees

News & Politics
This is a guest post from Josh Dorner of the Sierra Club.

We know the Bush administration must just have a serious case of amnesia about Hurricane Katrina, right? I mean, the only other explanation for failing to keep their promises to rebuild New Orleans would be sheer incompetence and a total lack of compassion for humanity in general. FEMA seems to have a particularly intractable case, as they keep sending their toxic trailers to disaster victims far and wide.

As air tests conducted by the Sierra Club found out over a year ago, the levels of the chemical formaldehyde in the air inside FEMA's toxic tin cans are through the roof. In fact, levels were on average AT LEAST THREE TIMES higher than the levels the Environmental Protection Agency concedes will make people sick.

Subsequent tests by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found formaldehyde levels as much as FIFTY TIMES higher than the EPA's "elevated" limit. And wouldn't you know it, the storm-addled folks housed in these trailers immediately began complaining of watery eyes, burning in the eyes and throat, sinus infections, nausea, and respiratory distress. Only FEMA could spend billions of dollars on brand new trailers for disaster victims that were unfit for human habitation.

And what did FEMA have to say at the time? No worries, they're safe!

Fast forward to this February -- despite continued warnings from the Sierra Club and others, FEMA begins trying to sell off the toxic trailers on the cheap in Hope, Arkansas of all places.

And now this week, just in time for FEMA to ship its carcinogen-spewing boxes to victims of the Kansas tornado, it released its own study on the trailers -- a study conducted due to Sierra Club pressure. While the study acknowledged the high levels of formaldehyde present in the trailers, its conclusion simply beggars belief. Did it call for getting trailers without high levels of toxic chemicals? NOPE! FEMA's suggestion for disaster victims: open a window!

Talk about the cure being worse than the disease. Who's going to save us from the folks trying to save us?

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