Governor Chet Culver is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to retest 20 FEMA trailers in Cedar Rapids which showed high levels of formaldehyde in tests conducted by a local TV station. KGAN’s tests of mobile homes being used by flood victims had formaldehyde levels higher than state standards.

Phil Roeder, a spokesman for Governor Culver, says FEMA officials haven’t contacted the governor’s office about the matter. "We still feel that at a minimum FEMA needs to take a second look at the trailers that were tested as a result of the media report and see if there really is a problem or not," Roeder says, "but at the same time if people living in temporary housing are concerned, then we would hope that FEMA would at least give people the option of having their temporary housing tested and determine whether or not things are safe or potentially unsafe."

A FEMA spokesman said yesterday that the trailers were safe when empty, but flood victims could have brought items when they moved in which contained the formaldehyde. Smoking materials also contain formaldehyde. Roeder says that may be, but the television report has unsettled flood victims who’re living in those trailers.

"People can argue about the science and parts per million and the details of this, but at the same time we’re dealing with hundreds of people who are living in temporary housing and if they have concerns, those concerns need to be addressed," Roeder says. As you may recall, some FEMA trailers shipped to Iowa earlier this year had mold problems.