While the Federal Emergency Management Agency is supposed to deal with natural disasters, it appears that the agency itself has actually become a national disaster. A prime example of how bad FEMA has been involves how the agency dealt with Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted by FEMA since Katrina. People in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast are still hurting. One of the problems has been finding the formaldehyde in FEMA trailers. In addition to the thousands of trailers in use, there are thousands of mobile homes stored for possible use by disaster victims.
Formaldehyde, a preservative commonly used in building materials, can cause respiratory problems and has been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There is no federal limit for formaldehyde, but officials in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee are discussing whether they should set a uniform standard of what an acceptable level of formaldehyde in emergency housing should be.
A federal scientist says his bosses ignored pleas to alert the hurricane victims about formaldehyde dangers in the trailers. He says they urged him not to go public with any warnings. Christopher De Rosa of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a House subcommittee his bosses told him such warnings could be misinterpreted if released to the public. De Rosa was one of the specialists who testified before the House Science and Technology subcommittee on how the CDC and other agencies handled health complaints linked to the trailers that FEMA provided to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It certainly appears that FEMA is guilty of playing down the health hazards. That is pretty clear, considering that the CDC felt in February that the formaldehyde levels in the FEMA trailers was a real problem.
After years of fumbling and stumbling, FEMA has finally seen the light and is now setting strict new limits on formaldehyde levels in the mobile homes it buys for disaster victims. After insisting for months that existing trailers were safe, the agency now says it will take “extraordinary precautions” by buying trailers with formaldehyde emissions comparable to that of a conventional house. FEMA itself has been a national disaster, and the more we see and hear of how this agency operates, the more I realize that all of the political hacks must be removed from this outfit and replaced with folks who understand their duties and responsibilities to the American people.
Source: USA Today and Associated Press
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