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US Health Officials Urge Hurricane Victims to Leave Government-Issued Trailers

U.S. health officials are recommending that Gulf Coast hurricane victims living in government-issued trailers move out as soon as possible, because of high levels of formaldehyde in the vehicles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is making the recommendation. That agency sampled the air inside more than 500 occupied trailers and mobile homes in Louisiana and Mississippi in December and January.

The CDC says exposure to low levels of formaldehyde, a colorless gas, can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and skin. It says the formaldehyde comes from the building materials in the trailers.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency told reporters at a news conference that it has moved more than 15,000 families to other housing. It says it will provide residents in the affected homes with case workers to address their needs.

FEMA issued the trailers to displaced residents following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005.

FEMA says in the future it will not use travel trailers, which are made for short-term housing. It says it will use mobile homes, which are made for long-term housing.