"The levels in many of these trailers and mobile homes are higher than would be expected indoors," Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement. "Since these levels were found in December and January, and we know that higher temperatures can cause formaldehyde levels to go up, we think it's wise for people to be relocated before the hot weather arrives in summer."
Those displaying symptoms -- irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin -- as well as families with children, the elderly, or those with chronic respiratory illnesses should receive priority, Gerberding said.
A random sample of 519 travel trailers and mobile homes tested in December and January found average levels of formaldehyde in all units at about 77 parts per billion -- or about five times the exposure from most modern homes.
Government officials recommend that Gulf Coast families living in the FEMA trailers to spend as much time outdoors in fresh air as possible and to air the trailers frequently.
The agencies have two toll-free hotlines. For FEMA housing concerns call 1-866-562-2381, or TTY 1-800-462-7585, while health-related questions should be directed to CDC specialists at 1-800-CDC-INFO.