Formaldehyde levels in FEMA-supplied travel trailers, park models, and mobile homes in Louisiana and Mississippi

M. W. Murphy, J. F. Lando, S. M. Kieszak, Mark E Sutter, G. P. Noonan, J. M. Brunkard, M. A. Mcgeehin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In 2006, area physicians reported increases in upper respiratory symptoms in patients living in U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-supplied trailers following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. One potential etiology to explain their symptoms included formaldehyde; however, formaldehyde levels in these occupied trailers were unknown. The objectives of our study were to identify formaldehyde levels in occupied trailers and to determine factors or characteristics of occupied trailers that could affect formaldehyde levels. A disproportionate random sample of 519 FEMA-supplied trailers was identified in Louisiana and Mississippi in November 2007. We collected and tested an air sample from each trailer for formaldehyde levels and administered a survey. Formaldehyde levels among all trailers in this study ranged from 3 parts per billion (ppb) to 590 ppb, with a geometric mean (GM) of 77 ppb [95% confidence interval (CI): 70-85; range: 3-590 ppb]. There were statistically significant differences in formaldehyde levels between trailer types (P < 0.01). The GM formaldehyde level was 81 ppb (95% CI: 72-92) among travel trailers (N = 360), 57 ppb (95% CI: 49-65) among mobile homes (N = 57), and 44 ppb (95% CI: 38-53) among park models (N = 44). Among travel trailers, formaldehyde levels varied significantly by brand. While formaldehyde levels varied by trailer type, all types tested had some levels ≥100 ppb.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-141
Number of pages8
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Formaldehyde
  • Gulf Coast
  • Indoor air
  • Temporary housing
  • Trailer
  • U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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