Federal health officials on Thursday urged hurricane victims to move out of trailers supplied by FEMA after tests showed dangerous levels of formaldehyde fumes.
Tests by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on more than 500 trailers in Louisiana and Mississippi showed formaldehyde levels that were five times higher than levels in a normal house. The levels in some trailers were nearly 40 times what is normal.
The CDC said people should move out quickly — especially children, the elderly and anyone with asthma or another chronic condition. Warmer temperatures can increase formaldehyde levels, and CDC officials said they want residents to move out of the trailers before summer.
Formaldehyde is a toxic chemical used to manufacture mobile homes. A CDC director said the high levels can cause burning eyes and breathing problems for people with asthma and those sensitive to air pollutants.
FEMA provided about 120,000 trailers in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. By 2006, many people were complaining of nosebleeds, headaches and other illnesses. Some of them testified before Congress last summer, and at least 1,000 families have asked FEMA to move them.