You’ve used our searchable database. Maybe you’ve found that the home you’re living in was one of FEMA’s formaldehyde-laden Katrina trailers. What can you do? Many things, it turns out.
For one thing, Nick Shapiro is still trying to figure out where all these trailers went. You can let him know you have one by filling out this form.
To report people illegally selling or renting FEMA trailers, you can call the inspector general of the General Services Administration at (800) 424-5210. You also might want to call your local housing inspector.
The EPA Toxic Substance Control Act has an assistance line at (202) 554-1404.
Public Lab, the citizen science nonprofit, is developing a website (currently in beta) for people to report formaldehyde in any kind of manufactured housing, FEMA-related or not.
The good news is that, a decade after Hurricanes Katrina & Rita, FEMA trailers are nearly done offgassing the formaldehyde that went into their construction. But it’s still a good idea to test them, as well as any building that shows the signs of dangerous levels of formaldehyde. Those signs include a “new car smell,” and visitors complaining of dizziness, nausea, headaches, disorientation, or breathing problems.
The Sierra Club recommends these test kits, made by ACS Badge.
Public Lab has this tutorial for how to make a lower-cost version yourself.
- Keep the windows open.
- Keep the temperature as low as possible.
- Run an air conditioner or dehumidifier to control mold. Fix any water leaks right away.
- Spend as much time outdoors in fresh air as possible.
If you’re interested in making your own houseplant-and-aquarium-pump air remediation kit, the Public Lab has instructions on how to do so. And here’s a list of NASA-endorsed air-filtering plants.