HASTINGS - Harriet McFeely believes exposure to formaldehyde gas in her Hastings home is responsible for the death of four pets and health problems she and her family have dealt with over the years.
"Most people who are being gassed don't even know they are," she said.
McFeely has lived in her modular home for 16 years and said over that time she has had four, unrelated pedigree dogs develop seizure disorders and die. She had her home checked for radon and carbon monoxide, and had their water tested. None of the tests showed anything unusual. She spent hours on the phone calling people all over the country to try to find answers. And finally they came -- from a chemistry professor at Hastings College.
The cupboards in her home were emitting formaldehyde gas, she said.
Armed with her answer, McFeely began doing more research. She connected some of her health problems to the symptoms reported by people exposed to formaldehyde gas -- headaches, burning eyes, double and triple vision, chronic diarrhea, memory loss, depression and muscle aches.
Her family has since replaced their cupboards and carpet. McFeely said the gas was being absorbed by the carpet after being released from the cupboards and then it was released again in warm weather. The replacement materials don't contain plywood or particle board and the carpet is made from corn, she said.
McFeely said her older home tests at a formaldehyde gas level three times higher than what is considered safe.
According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, a "very small percentage of the population appears to be particularly sensitive to formaldehyde, not unlike an allergy. Nearly 8 million families enjoy using RVs right now and there are very, very few complaints of air quality."