FEMA Too Slow on Katrina Trailer Toxins: Federal Report

Agency didn't announce toxin find until 2 years after people moved in
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 24, 2009 9:42 AM CDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, talks with Sally James during a visit to her Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer in Pass Christian, Miss., on Monday, Aug. 13, 2007.   (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
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(Newser) – FEMA was too slow to deal with reports of toxins in trailers used to house Hurricane Katrina victims, potentially posing a “significant health risk” to thousands along the Gulf Coast, a Homeland Security report says. Residents of the trailers had reported bloody noses, headaches, and worse as a result of exposure to formaldehyde, a carcinogenic gas, USA Today reports.

The report also notes that FEMA delayed trailer testing for 2 months in 2007 because of a lack of PR strategy. The agency announced it had found toxins in the trailers the following year, more than 2 years after people had moved in, the report says, criticizing poor quality control that led to the purchase of the trailers. FEMA says it agrees with the report and "will take all appropriate and necessary steps,” a rep says.