Environmental Group says Some FEMA Trailers Unsafe

MAY 18, 2006 - Posted at 3:35 p.m. CST

GULFPORT, MS - An environmental group says thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims in Mississippi and Lousiana may be living in unsafe conditions after tests it conducted showed dangerous levels of formaldehyde in some government trailers.

The Sierra Club has asked for a congressional hearing after it claimed that 30 out of 32 Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers it tested had levels of formaldehyde that were unsafe.

Formaldehyde is a widely used industrial chemical.  The colorless, pungent gas can irritate eyes, nose and throat, and cause difficulty breathing and nauseu at levels above .1 part-per-million in the air.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer says formaldehyde is also known to cause cancer in the upper throat.

About 10,000 of the trailers are stored at the airport at Hope.  Several of those trailers have also been moved to Marmaduke, where they are being used by victims of the April 2 tornado that struck northern Greene County.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)