July 26, 2009
DHS OIG - FEMA Response to Formaldehyde in Trailers
"Nearly one-third of the trailers provided to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita were eventually projected to have significant potential formaldehyde problems. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials, in our opinion, did not take sufficiently prompt and effective action to determine the extent of the formaldehyde problem in the emergency housing units once they were aware that such a problem might exist. FEMA officials let nearly a year pass while working with other agencies to analyze which of two methods for reducing formaldehyde levels in never-occupied units was most effective. At the end of that year, they had learned that ventilation was more effective than temperature control at reducing formaldehyde levels, but that both were effective – information that was already widely known, including by FEMA officials, before the study began."