For Immediate Release - February 14, 2008
Contact: Oliver Bernstein, 512-477-2152
Centers for Disease Control Study Confirms Dangers of FEMA Trailers
Announcement Comes Nearly Two Years after Sierra Club First Raised Issue
Nearly two years after Sierra Club testing indicated that FEMA emergency housing had unsafe levels of formaldehyde, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's test results released today confirm the danger of these trailers. Trailer residents and the Sierra Club have been pressing officials to acknowledge the problem of formaldehyde outgassing in the trailers and to stop distributing the trailers and relocate inhabitants to safer housing. 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.
Statement of Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director
"Today’s long-overdue announcement from the CDC confirms what the Sierra Club has been saying since 2006: FEMA trailers are toxic to human health and no one should be living in them. The Bush Administration’s FEMA dragged its feet for years while the people it was supposed to protect were getting sick and dying from these trailers. If FEMA had acted quickly and decisively, then tens of thousands of trailer inhabitants might not be in such dire situations today. Too many unknowing victims have been exposed to unsafe levels of formaldehyde, and FEMA must now act quickly to right its wrongs.
"As the first group to discover the toxicity of FEMA trailers in April 2006, 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. Today’s comprehensive test results from the CDC sadly confirm what Sierra Club has long argued.
"For far too long FEMA and the Bush Administration willfully ignored and sometimes covered up complaints of people suffering from formaldehyde exposure. Instead of agencies’ covering up and censoring information about the dangers posed by these trailers, they should have acted immediately to protect victims of natural disasters from being victimized again.
"Beyond getting people out of these toxic units as quickly as possible, FEMA must now take responsibility for victims’ medical claims associated with exposure to formaldehyde. FEMA should establish a clear, long-term and well publicized program for offering safe housing for storm victims. Federal agencies must now collaborate to develop a strong standard for indoor formaldehyde levels, including mobile homes.
"We call on FEMA Administrator David Paulison and the Bush Administration to act strongly and quickly to right the injustice that families living in FEMA-provided disaster housing are experiencing. At their time of greatest need, faced with the task of rebuilding their lives from nothing, victims of disaster have been sickened by the very roof over their head. We can do better for America’s citizens, and we call on FEMA to provide strong leadership to right this wrong."