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Simple Emissions Test from Air Quality Sciences for Compliance with FEMA Guidelines

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita taught valuable lessons about emergency preparedness, disaster recovery and the importance of providing safe emergency housing for disaster victims. High levels of formaldehyde in some temporary housing raised health concerns for citizens of these ravaged areas.

According to public health officials, acute and chronic health effects of formaldehyde exposure can vary depending on individual sensitivity. Formaldehyde exposure can result in upper respiratory tract irritation and can exacerbate respiratory diseases including asthma.

To minimize formaldehyde and exposure to other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in emergency housing, FEMA developed new procurement guidelines for allowable airborne levels in manufactured housing. Concentrations of formaldehyde must test below 0.016 parts per million (ppm) and total volatile organic compounds (TVOC) must be below 500 µg/m3. The new procurement specifications impact design and production of all travel trailer, U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development (HUD) code and park models being built under the new FEMA regulations.

To help manufacturers who supply the manufactured housing industry with cabinetry, furniture, shelving, engineered woods, insulation and other furnishings and building materials, Air Quality Sciences has introduced a simple emissions test for qualifying to the new FEMA specifications. Air Quality Sciences, a leading world authority on indoor air quality based in Atlanta, Georgia, has tested more than 60,000 products for chemical emissions since the organization's inception in 1989.

Suppliers who utilize the AQS "FEMA test" can determine how their products individually contribute to the indoor air levels of formaldehyde and TVOC. To replicate the environments of FEMA specified housing models, AQS employs state-of-the-art environmental chamber testing technology coupled with exposure models representative of the housing types.

Tony Worthan, MPH, AQS President and Chief Operating Officer shared, "We support the manufactured housing industry by providing this important verification test for suppliers. The manufacturers can be confident in the products they are specifying, allowing them to build homes with a high quality of indoor air."


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