Oh, Really? CDC says FEMA’s Gulf Coast Trailers are Toxic
As Arthur blogged yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control officially confirmed that formaldehyde in 144,000 FEMA issued trailers causes serious respiratory problems and is a likely carcinogen.
It should be noted that CDC’s official mea culpa comes a mere two years after the Sierra Club found the same about the toxic trailers and 18 months after OSHA issued a report even more dire than the Sierra Club’s.
Lawmakers and Gulf Coasts residents have, quite understandably, given FEMA a lot of grief for issuing 144,000 unsafe trailers. Yesterday House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to FEMA head David Paulison saying the agency still hasn’t explained the process that went into approving the trailers.
But the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is not a brake on a bumbling FEMA but a willing accomplice. CDC leadership ignored internal experts who said the trailer contained dangerous levels of exposure to formaldehyde.
Only yesterday did FEMA and CDC publicly come to terms with the situation. “We will not ever use trailers again,” Paulison said.
But 38,000 families are still using the unsafe trailers. The key decisions now are whether to force these people from the trailers (particularly if they rest on private property) and if the government should foot the victim’s medical bills. Maybe the agencies now feel pressure to act with an urgency that defies their track record.