Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Necessity of Dreams Has Never Been More Clear--

Next time, it's you or me or our children. The horrors of Katrina were one thing, but they pale in terms of this ongoing social neglect of our own. If anything good comes out of this movement around Obama, if anything good comes out of this war, I hope it's that we begin to think in terms of not just the dream but the necessity of building a new kidn of government (by government I mean a mechanism for living together, looking out for each other and living our live's to their fullest), a new kind of government that doesn't mean simply protection of the rights of the privileged, a government that is genuinely BY THE PEOPLE and FOR THE PEOPLE.

This one isn't. No way, no how.


Feds plan study of children amid FEMA trailer furor

CDC bosses ignored warning, scientist says

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

By Bruce Alpert
Washington bureau

WASHINGTON -- Accused of taking months to correct a misleading report about the possible health risks of formaldehyde in FEMA trailers, a government agency announced Tuesday a five-year study of Gulf Coast children to determine the long-term effects of exposure to the gas.
"I regret that our initial work on formaldehyde in trailers did not meet our own expectations," said Howard Frumkin, director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Details of the new children's study, he said, are still being worked out.

The announcement came as a House subcommittee heard emotional testimony from the Agency for Toxic Substance's former top toxicologist, Christopher De Rosa, who said he was excluded from a flawed 2007 study that recommended simple venting as a way to reduce potentially toxic levels of the gas.

De Rosa said the respiratory problems reported by trailer residents were a "harbinger of a pending public health catastrophe" and that residents should be alerted of potential "reproductive, developmental and carcinogenic effects." He said he was instructed not to write e-mails about his concerns for fear they might be misinterpreted.

The 2007 report had concluded that by opening windows and vents formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers could be kept at safe levels in the short term. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reported those findings to the public, including in April 2007 testimony to a House committee by the agency's director, David Paulison.

But by then, according to subcommittee Chairman Brad Miller, D-N.D., the Centers for Disease Control already had reported De Rosa's concerns in a letter to the agency's legal counsel, who put it in a file and never shared it with other officials.

Because no one at the CDC corrected the reassuring statements by Paulison and others, Miller said residents were given a false sense of security.

Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas, who said he was ashamed of the revelations, called De Rosa a model employee willing to risk his own career to warn residents about possible health problems.
Frumkin acknowledged that he and other agency officials should have been suspicious when the request for a report on formaldehyde levels came from the counsel's office at FEMA, rather than employees directly involved with trailers. It indicated, Frumkin said, the request was intended more to protect against litigation than as a comprehensive examination of the potential health concerns.

FEMA Deputy Administrator Harvey Johnson told the subcommittee that FEMA is moving quickly to move the remaining 30,000 hurricane victims in trailers to other housing -- about 1,000 a month at last count.

Becky Gillette, a Sierra Club official who first reported in 2006 that high formaldehyde levels at FEMA trailers were causing health problems, said she encountered "callous disregard" from FEMA and the CDC as she pleaded for follow-up studies. At the very least, she told the subcommittee, that FEMA officials and federal researchers should have spent 15 minutes, "let alone spend the night," to learn what residents were encountering.
. . . . . . .
Bruce Alpert can be reached at or (202) 383-7861.