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What You Should Know / March 17, 2010

FEMA TOXIC HOMES -- he trailers are a legacy of the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina. They were purchased by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as temporary housing for displaced Gulf Coast residents, but some people who moved into them reported burning eyes, irritated throats, headaches and nosebleeds.The Sierra Club began testing the air inside some of the trailers in 2006 and found unusually high levels of formaldehyde. The government delayed almost two years, as reports of illness mounted, before declaring in 2008 that all those living in the trailers should move out.Additional testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FEMA found that, on average, formaldehyde levels inside the trailers were five times higher than expected for indoor air. “Long-term exposure to levels in this range can be linked to an increased risk of cancer, and as levels rise above this range, there can also be a risk of respiratory illness,” a CDC statement said. Formaldehyde is particularly dangerous for people with asthma or bronchitis.

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