In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they became a symbol of the government’s inept response to that disaster: the 120,000 or so trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to people who had lost their homes.
The trailers were discovered to have such high levels of formaldehyde that the government banned them from ever being used for long-term housing again.
Some of the trailers, though, are getting a second life amid the latest disaster here — as living quarters for workers involved with the cleanup of the oil spill.
They have been showing up in mobile-home parks, open fields and local boatyards as thousands of cleanup workers have scrambled to find housing.People have to sleep, right?
Federal officials ... discovered that formaldehyde — an industrial chemical that can cause nasal cancer, aggravates respiratory problems and may be linked to leukemia — was present in many of these housing units in amounts that exceeded federal limits. Scientists have since concluded that the high levels of formaldehyde found in the trailers probably resulted from cheap wood and poor ventilation. FEMA has produced other models and later batches of the trailers that do not have the health risks that the trailers built for Hurricane Katrina victims did.The trailers are “not intended to be used as housing,” said David Garratt, FEMA’s associate administrator for mission support. “Subsequent owners must continue to similarly inform subsequent buyers for the life of the unit.”
These rules are not being followed in many cases, however. Officials with the inspector general’s office of the General Services Administration said Wednesday that they had opened at least seven cases concerning buyers who might not have posted the certification and formaldehyde warnings on trailers they sold.