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RVIA Meets with CDC, Related Industries on Formaldehyde

There were important developments on the formaldehyde issue last week, as RVIA hosted a series of productive meetings that included sessions with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well organizations and businesses outside the RV market that produce or use formaldehyde.

“Industry Part of Solution” CDC Says
A team of CDC officials met with RV manufacturer and supplier members on April 24 in South Bend, Ind. to provide an update on their testing of FEMA temporary housing units (THU), for studies focusing on occupied units, unoccupied units, and children’s health issues. 

 “In conducting the testing, the CDC was not trying to harm any industry.  There was no hidden agenda.  Our mission is to provide the best scientific data,” said Michael A. McGeehin, Ph.D., Distinguished Consultant at the CDC and Director, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects of the National Center for Environmental Health. 

“Nobody designed these units to be lived in for two and a half years,” he noted. “‘Toxic Trailers’ might make a good headline, but it is not appropriate to apply to trailers what may cause some symptoms in some sensitive individuals.”

 “The results from the testing of THUs do not represent scores for the overall RV, park trailer or manufactured housing products,” added McGeehin.

Other key discussion points during the meeting included how CDC and other agencies could continue working with the RV industry on the formaldehyde issue beyond the testing of FEMA units.

The CDC offered to work with industry members to identify the primary sources of formaldehyde in RV components and to examine mitigation strategies.  This includes CDC-testing of room air cleaners and air quality monitors for industry use that are cost-efficient and provide accurate and immediate results.

There are also plans for a comprehensive intergovernmental policy project that would examine indoor air quality in all residential and commercial occupancies.  With RVs and manufactured housing expected to be included, the CDC said the RV industry could have a role in the effort. “We need to work together toward a resolution of these issues,” said McGeehin.

The CDC is also planning to test the building materials in unoccupied trailers against the California Air Resource Board (CARB) standard for wood-product emission levels, which RVIA recently announced plans to adopt, to determine what the likely ambient air levels would be under these new guidelines.

During the briefing, agency officials discussed their plans to share all testing results with FEMA, other federal agencies and industry, publicize them on CDC’s website and release them to scientific journals. Final results of the occupied trailer tests are expected in late May, and the unoccupied trailer testing is scheduled to begin shortly. The children’s health study will begin a year from now, and will include children who reside/have resided in THUs.

“This was an opportunity to continue our dialogue with CDC, discuss the questions and concerns our industry has about the testing, and examine how best to work together moving forward,” said RVIA President Richard Coon.  “CDC indicated that our presentation raised reasonable points that they will take back to the agency. I thought it was a very productive meeting.”

Coalition Building Meetings
In addition to the meetings with CDC, RVIA also hosted two organizational meetings to explore forming a broad-based coalition of companies, associations, and others who share a common interest in promoting better media and public understanding of the health effects of formaldehyde. 

The sessions were held on April 22 in Washington, D.C. and April 23 in South Bend, Ind., drawing representatives from the RV, chemical, textile, furniture, manufactured housing and wood product industries.

The goal is to organize a coalition to promote sound public policy on formaldehyde and encourage scientifically accurate and non-sensational media coverage on the issue.

“We were encouraged by the participation at the meetings and the interest among attendees about joining together to form a coalition,” said Coon.  “This new group will work together to encourage the media and government to consider the science of formaldehyde when examining the issue, and not let politics and emotion rule the day.”





Category: RVIA

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