Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Official: CDC late on FEMA trailer issue

Someone made a comment recently that how could it be that something the government makes you do (ie.., vaccines) could possibly not be checked out and deemed to be totally safe and therefore parents who say it's not are wacko?

Well, I bring you the formaldehyde-y FEMA trailers. Don't forget a man DIED while complaining about the fumes (from the AP:)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should have reacted sooner to concerns about hazardous fumes in government-issued trailers housing thousands of Gulf Coast hurricane victims, a CDC official told a congressional panel Tuesday.

"In retrospect, we did not engage the formaldehyde issue as aggressively and as early as we should have," Howard Frumkin, director of the CDC's National Center For Environmental Health, told a Senate subcommittee on disaster recovery. The committee met in Washington.

The CDC announced last month that tests on hundreds of occupied Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers and mobile homes found formaldehyde levels that were, on average, about five times higher than what people are exposed to in most modern homes. The results prompted FEMA to step up efforts to move roughly 35,000 families still living in the trailers after the 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita....

"FEMA takes very seriously our responsibility to provide for the safety and security of disaster victims," he said. "Our primary focus is to help those households relocate from temporary housing to more permanent solutions as quickly as possible."

In mid-2006, FEMA enlisted the CDC's help in analyzing the results of air-quality tests on unoccupied trailers. But the CDC didn't start testing the air quality in occupied FEMA trailers — or study the possible health effects of long-term formaldehyde exposure — until late last year.

Frumkin said the safety of trailers should have been a top priority soon after the hurricanes hit, but that CDC scientists were "extremely engaged" in other environmental health issues.

"Formaldehyde in trailers didn't rise to the top of our priority list at that time, and if I could roll the tape back, I would change that," he said.

"This is a little too late," Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., told Deputy FEMA Administrator Harvey Johnson Jr. during Tuesday's hearing.

read more here.