U.S. health officials are urging that Gulf Coast hurricane victims be moved out of their government-issued trailers as quickly as possible after tests found toxic levels of formaldehyde fumes.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fumes from 519 trailer and mobile homes in Louisiana and Mississippi were, on average, about five times what people are exposed to in most modern homes.
In some trailers, the levels were nearly 40 times customary exposure levels, raising fears that residents could contract respiratory problems.
While there are no federal safety standard for formaldehyde fumes in homes, Mike McGeehin, director of a CDC division that focuses on environmental hazards, said the levels found in the trailers are high enough to cause burning eyes and breathing problems for people who have asthma or sensitivity to air pollutants.
CDC officials said the study did not prove people became sick from the fumes, but merely took a snapshot reading of fume levels. They say only formaldehyde was tested.
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