After their apartment was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi family lived in two trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, both of which contained high levels of formaldehyde. The Huckabees' symptoms started just days after moving into their first trailer in Kiln, Miss. Lindsay, 26 and pregnant, began having migraine headaches, and the four children had constant upper respiratory problems. Formaldehyde, a toxic chemical most often used for embalming, is used as a glue in building materials. Under hot, humid conditions it can leak into the air.
The Centers for Disease Control, working with FEMA, tested the air for formaldehyde fumes in 519 trailer- and mobile homes between Dec. 21 and Jan. 23. The testing revealed that some trailers contained fumes at levels nearly 40 times the customary exposure level.
The CDC and FEMA announced Thursday that Gulf Coast hurricane victims will be moved out of their government-issued, formaldehyde-laden trailers as quickly as possible.
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