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Thompson Demands Solution To Formaldehyde Crisis

Thompson Demands Solution to Formaldehyde Trailer Crisis

February 14, 2008 (Washington) - Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released results of formaldehyde testing performed on occupied FEMA travel trailers. On May 15, 2007, FEMA Administrator David Paulison testified before the Committee on Homeland Security that "we have been told that the formaldehyde does not present a health hazard." The CDC, however, has consistently stated otherwise. Health risks associated with prolonged formaldehyde exposure can range from respiratory irritation to cancer and are especially alarming for families with children, the elderly, and individuals with chronic illnesses such as asthma.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security released the following statement regarding the announcement:

"After over a year of sitting on their hands, the Bush Administration has finally provided clear and accurate information to trailer occupants about the potential risks of formaldehyde to their health. It is simply unacceptable that the Administration allowed trailer occupants to be exposed to these health risks at all, let alone for years.

"I fully expect FEMA to comply with CDC's recommendation and begin moving people out of the affected trailers immediately. This will not be easy due to the shortage of affordable housing, but FEMA must find a way to offer everyone affected a locally based, affordable, and sustainable housing solution.

"Currently, there are over 6,000 households living in travel trailers along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but only about 300 rental properties are available at fair market value in the same area. Yet it would be unreasonable for the Administration to expect these individuals - most of whom live paycheck to paycheck - to switch jobs, move their families, and leave their communities behind.

"In light of this ongoing housing crisis in the Gulf, I question the Administration's recent decision to allow the funding intended for low and middle income housing construction to be diverted to a port expansion project in the Gulf. The need for affordable housing is obvious and immediate. The Congress has acted to provide funds and we fully expect the Administration to follow suit with a solution."

ENDS

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