News Stories

Katrina Survivors in Toxic Trailers

First we use illegal immigrants to clean up the mess left by Hurricane Katrina. Then we house the survivors in trailers that have been called "toxic tin cans." Many Katrina survivors have lived in these trailers for close to one year.With more destructive weather on the way, we need to be concerned about what's going on.

On MSNBC.com, Mike Brunker reports that the FEMA trailers used to house tens of thousands of people left homeless by hurricane Katrina are exposing them to the toxic gas formaldehyde, which can cause both long and short-term health risks. Formaldehyde, which is used in the wood and plywood panels that make up the interiors of these trailers, is officially classified as a carcinogen by the EPA. The California Air Resources Board classified formaldehyde as a "toxic air contaminant." Brunker writes that they've "concluded that, based on current research, there is 'no safe exposure threshold ? to preclude cancer.'"

Brunker quotes researcher Mary DeVany as saying, "Typically with these plywood and particleboard materials?before assembly they?re put in ovens that heat them to 130 degrees. This sets and bakes off the formaldehyde in the glues and resins?I?m not sure that happened in this case because the trailers were made so fast."

He quotes pediatrician Scott Needle as saying, "I was seeing kids coming in with respiratory complaints?colds and sinus infections?and they were getting them over and over again?Almost invariably, these families were staying in the FEMA trailers."

Paul and Melody Stewart finally left their camper and now live in their truck. Brunker quotes Paul as saying, "You?ve got?hard-working people that have lost their jobs and retired people who have paid their dues to society, and we're putting them at risk by letting them stay in these campers."

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

Last summer saw the most extensive arctic melt everrecorded, as billions of gallons of fresh water from meltingpolar ice flooded the North Atlantic. The danger of suddenclimate change resulting from exactly this phenomenon is thecenterpiece of Whitley Strieber and Art Bell's bookSuperstorm and the film based on it, The Day After Tomorrow. The idea that a freshwater flood in northern seas might cause dramatic climate change was first put forward inThe Key, and has now been confirmed by evidence of past such events. When the Gulf Stream stopped 8,000 years ago, due to a flood of fresh water from a collapsed ice dam in the arctic, there was extraordinary and rapid climate change. At present, there are no current measurements of the state of ocean circulation, but one possibility that would explain2007-2008's extremely harsh winter is that ocean currentshave been weakened by last summers extreme arctic melt.

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