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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

The FEMA follies continue.

Nine months after Hurricane Katrina hit the US Gulf Coast, thousands of people whose homes were destroyed or made uninhabitable are still living in trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Since Day 1, those trailers have been a matter of controversy and complaint. Besides being a lousy place to live, they're costing the government far more than would better accomodations, such as Katrina Cottages. FEMA trailers are unlikely to survive floods or high winds, and the propane tanks that usually come with the trailers have caused a number of explosions.

But, as they say, that's not all, folks.

The Sierra Club says that thousands of people living in FEMA trailers may be getting exposed to dangerous levels of formaldehyde, a chemical that is known to cause cancer. So far, the environmental group has tested for formaldehyde levels at 50 trailers. Test results are available for 32 of the trailers and all but two of the tests showed unsafe levels of airborne formaldehyde.

Based on these results, the Sierra Club is asking for a congressional investigation.

"We started doing this testing because people were getting sick, having nosebleeds and having constant coughs," said Mississippi Sierra Club spokeswoman Becky Gillette. "The government is making people sick. They are putting people back in harm's way...."

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

It is also known to cause cancer in the upper throat, the International Agency for Research on Cancer said.

"It is important that we don't discount these symptoms," said Mary DeVany, a certified industrial hygienist. "Almost all of the concentrations that we measured were 10 to 100 times higher than the worst smog levels in Los Angeles."

FEMA, of course, says that the Sierra Club is overreacting and that the formaldehyde is 'no ongoing risk' to trailer residents.

Given FEMA's recent track record, I wouldn't bet on that.

Via AP.

| | Posted by Magpie at 11:53 AM | Get permalink




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