Showing posts with label FEMA trailers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FEMA trailers. Show all posts

Thursday, March 13, 2008

So How Much formadehyde is in FEMA trailers?

Lehrer's News Hour did a piece on formaldehyde in the FEMA trailers distributed after Katrina. It was a long piece, interviewed trailer occupants with health problems, lawyers, FEMA officials, and a consultant for the trailer makers. Not once in the entire piece did they tell us how much formaldehyde was found in the trailers. The level was "high" or "above limits" but never was a number for the actual measured amount given. To say nothing of how many trailers were measured. Nor was a government or industry standard given. Nor was the level measured in ordinary trailers sold to the public given. Lack of real numbers discredits the entire piece, if they really did the measurements, they ought to have written the results down and presented them. No numbers, no credibility.
Nor was the testing procedure documented. Were the measurements made with the windows open or closed? Instruments were calibrated how? Lab work was done by who? When was the lab certified last? Trailers were tested for what else besides formaldehyde? Cigarette smoke? gasoline vapors? Smog? Carbon monoxide? wood smoke? automobile exhaust?
Modern test equipment is so sensitive that it can detect a small level of anything nearly anywhere. I'm sure there is some level of formaldehyde from the plywood of which the trailers were constructed. For that matter I am sure there is a small level of formaldehyde from the plywood in my house. The question is, was the formaldehyde level high enough to be dangerous, not that it was high enough to be detected.
I expect the FEMA trailers were bought from ordinary trailer makers, who have made plenty of trailers before Katrina. I doubt that the Katrina trailers are any worse on formaldehyde than the trailers sold to the public. No formaldehyde measurements on publicly sold trailers were presented, but I'd bet they are about the same as the Katrina trailers.
The News Hour ought to be ashamed of presenting such a poorly documented and frankly biased piece on the air.