Sorry About All the Formaldehyde, Katrina Survivors

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Bronchitis, wheezing, possibly cancer and irreparable damage to the lungs of of displaced Katrina victims will cost the people who manufactured FEMA's temporary trailers $14.8 million. The settlement between residents and the 20 or so mobile home manufacturers has already been filed and, as Reuters' Kathy Finn details, "could affect tens of thousands of people who lived in trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast and left thousands homeless in August and September 2005."  According to lawyer representing the residents, the first lawsuit concerning the matter was first filed in 2006.

The residents who lived in those trailers, suffered respiratory illnesses which, Finn points out, match the symptoms of prolonged formaldehyde exposure which include respiratory irritations and quite possibly cancer.'s report on formaldehyde states that: 

The inhalation of air contaminated with formaldehyde may result in respiratory problems such as coughing, bronchitis, chest pains and wheezing. Acute exposure to formaldehyde via inhalation causes irritation in the eyes, throat and nasal cavities. Prolonged or chronic exposure to formaldehyde via inhalation may also lead to labored breathing and lesions in the lungs, potentially causing irreparable damage to the lungs.

"If the judge approves the settlement, attorneys will ask potential victims to file claims with the court, possibly by late August," reports Finn, who adds that "the number of claims could range from 10,000 to 20,000, depending on how many people respond."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.