Thursday

Formaldehyde in the Fall, on sale now


Hurricane Katrina was a disaster for Mississippi and thousands are still affected, with populations shifted and the landscape scarred still. One thing it made the public more aware of, however, was not in the wind that day.

After Katrina left the coast and dissipated, and FEMA finally got into gear, the federal government bought thousands of trailers from RV manufacturers for temporary housing for the thousands of displaced homeless families who had lost everything in the storm. For everyone at the time, it seemed like a blessing. The reality was something else.
With most of the trailers, if not all of them, came the smell of death. Now, it's on sale.

Acres of trailers, 483 of them in Brooklyn, are being sold at an online auction by the federal agency charged with disposing of surplus government property. And the sale closes October 2.

"We're trying it out to see how it goes," said Alicia Paris, an administrative assistant who transferred from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Gulfport office to help with trailer sales. Paris described the lot being sold at Carnes as "7's," which in government-talk means they think the formaldehyde-laden trailers are repairable and can be used as "temporary housing."

Of course, the folks who think these trailers are repairable and livable are the same folks who didn't even see Katrina coming, so you know what that's worth.

As sales go, this one is small. It's only 483 of the estimated 35,000 that were still left over earlier this year, nearly a third of which are located around Columbia, Mississippi. People stopped buying the trailers in 2007 when word leaked out about the heavy dose of formaldehyde that was used in the trailer construction and its ill effects on people living in the trailers without knowing about it.

Turns out, though, that this is all a bit of a blessing in disguise. Congressional investigations and lawsuits have now turned up evidence that the Rv industry has for decades used formaldehyde in construction of trailers, mobile homes, Rv's, motor coaches and other occupational use. None of it was widely known until Katrina came to town. The publicity was so bad that now one company has even started building Rv's that are "green" and promise no formaldehyde use at all and others have promised to cut back on formaldehyde use. That's good for everyone. Especially owners.

The long term health hazards of formaldehyde are notorious, including higher cancer risks. there's a good blog about it here: http://injurylaw.reganfirm.com/2008/02/articles/consumer-safety/fema-trailers-formaldehyde-dangers/.

Meanwhile, be careful. That new smell in your new Rv might not be what you think.

Burdge Law Office
Because life's too short to put up with a bad Rv.