Sunday, May 25, 2008

Formaldehyde in Katrina Trailers

There are many thousands of people who have suffered long term health effects from exposure to formaldehyde fumes. The cause is deregulation.

There are many thousands of people who have suffered long term health effects from exposure to formaldehyde fumes produced by their houses. This is nothing new, and the cause is well known and well studied.

Plywood has been manufactured for many years. A form of plywood was made in ancient Egypt, and in more modern times plywood was used to manufacture some airplanes in WWII.

Plywood has some significant advantages over conventional wood in terms of warping and strength. Plywood is made from several (odd numbered) thin layers of wood. These thin layers of wood are glued together under pressure and heat at 140 degrees C (280 °F) in a press under 19 MPa (2,800 psi) of pressure. The layers are placed so that each layer has the grain of the wood running at right angles to the adjacent layer. Placing the grain of each layer at 90 degree angles to the next greatly increases the strength and reduces warping.

The glue or adhesive that is used to make plywood is usually phenol formaldehyde resin. There are several grades of this glue, and as one might expect, the cheaper glues tend to give off more formaldehyde gas even after the plywood is built into one’s furniture or house.

If the temperature, pressure, or time used in the laminating process of manufacturing the plywood is lowered, this reduces the cost of production, i.e. increases profit. The unfortunate byproduct of this reduction in cost of plywood production is improperly cured resin between the layers of wood in the plywood, resulting in dangerously unhealthy amounts of the cancer causing gas formaldehyde being released into the air.

All of the above is well known and is absolutely no surprise to anyone familiar with the industry.

The reason that American citizens tolerate taxation (see taxation without representation) is so that the government will protect the people and properly regulate industries which might harm the public.

It is the job of government, both elected officials and governmental employees, to regulate many different things in order to protect the citizens.

Some of our tax money goes to fund the military, so that they will protect us. The government has a responsibility to protect the citizens from unhealthy food products, either those manufactured in America, or those imported from other countries. The government is expected to make sure that the toys our young children put in their mouths do not have excessive levels of lead in them. It is the responsibility of government to regulate pharmaceuticals so that the citizens don’t take medicines which are just ineffective and unhealthy snake oil.

It is the government’s job to make sure that the money we put in the bank is safe, that the U.S. dollar does not suffer unreasonable amounts of inflation or deflation, and it is the government’s job to regulate financial markets so that they don’t go from boom to bust. The government is expected to enforce building codes so that our houses don't fall down on us. The government has the responsibility to provide fire protection and a well-functioning police department which catches criminals while respecting the rights of the citizens.

The government is expected to make sure that our old age pensions are secure and sufficient to provide a decent retirement income. The government has the responsibility to make certain that the water we drink from our taps is not unhealthy and that the air we breathe is safe. The government is expected to help out those of us in dire straights with the assistance in food stamps, unemployment payments, and health care for poor people and old folks.

The concept of deregulation is now seen as one of allowing corporations and wealthy individuals to increase their wealth, while allowing the normal citizens of American to suffer because of exposure to dangerous products which are no longer properly regulated by the government.

This deregulation is abdication of responsibility by the government.

So that next time someone spouts the virtues of deregulation, understand that they have been seriously misguided. In general these people who support deregulation are not the robber barons who will benefit from the deregulation. They are just seriously misinformed.