Thursday, February 22, 2007

Government Charity Kills

People on the Gulf Coast are finding out the hard way that government charity is a dangerous and, sometimes deadly thing. Remember all of those FEMA trailers? Well, they are apparently not the good deal that many people thought they were going to be.

Along the Gulf Coast, in the towns and fishing villages from New Orleans to Mobile, survivors of Hurricane Katrina are suffering from a constellation of similar health problems. They wake up wheezing, coughing and gasping for breath. Their eyes burn; their heads ache; they feel tired, lethargic. Nosebleeds are common, as are sinus infections and asthma attacks. Children and seniors are most severely afflicted, but no one is immune.

There's one other similarity: The people suffering from these illnesses live in trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

The interiors are fabricated from composite wood, particle board and other materials that emit formaldehyde, a common but toxic chemical.
Air sampling by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at holding stations where groups of trailers were kept before they were set up revealed high formaldehyde levels even in outdoor air. At the holding station in Pass Christian, formaldehyde in outdoor air was 30 to 50 times the level recommended by the EPA, and several times OSHA's workplace standard.
How many people have been sickened or died due to these toxic government trailers? Government charity looks to be a rather sickening proposition. Reasonable people must find it odd that FEMA has no minimum standards for quality that would contain the simplest of rules, such as "Don't use toxic materials in building these trailers, because people might get sick or die".

The amount of foot dragging going on seems all too typical, too. FEMA just doesn't seem to care that their trailers are toxin pits and have little fear of repercussions. Must have something to do with that whole sovereign immunity concept the government and its minions are so fond of.

The people of the Gulf Coast region have been through more than enough since hurricane Katrina. Having to deal with this, on top of unscrupulous insurance companies, lack of housing and a depressed regional economy are seemingly more than anyone should have to bear. As we can see, government charity rarely comes without some poisonous string attached. Sad to say that many of these toxic trailers were made right up the road from me here in Indiana and passed by me numerous times on their way to the Coast. There's plenty of shame to go around on this one.

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