Picayune Man's Invention Filters Formaldehyde From FEMA Trailers, Cottages

PICAYUNE (WLOX) -- A scientist from Picayune says he has the answer to eliminating formaldehyde problems in FEMA trailers and Mississippi Cottages.

As WLOX News uncovered recently, tests done by the Sierra Club found high levels of the chemical in the cottages that are replacing FEMA trailers.

Dr. B.C. Wolverton has spent more than 30 years as a civilian scientist with the military and NASA. Since retiring from NASA 18 years ago, Dr. B.C. Wolverton has developed high-efficiency plant-based air filtration systems. He says he has the solution to eliminating formaldehyde inside FEMA trailers.

"What this filter does, it performs the function of about 100-200 potted plants in removing chemicals such as formaldehyde from the indoor environment," Wolverton said.

Wolverton worked with a Japanese engineering company for ten years where he helped develop the EcoPlanter, which is sold in Japan. The planter has a mixture of expanded pebbles, mixed through with activated carbon.

"Now, when you pull the air down through there, this activated carbon, and we have a dry and wet zone. This filter absorbs all these nasty chemicals, including formaldehyde, benzin, what have you. It traps them and what happens, the plant microbes convert these trapped chemicals into a source of energy and food for the plant and the microbe."

Wolverston says since the system regenerates itself under normal operating conditions, you never have to change the filters. He calls it a hostile environment for most disease causing viruses and bacteria.

When formaldehyde problems began cropping up in FEMA trailers, the Sierra Club contacted Dr. Wolverton. In October of 2006, the Sierra Club placed one of Wolverton's EcoPlanter systems in a Bay St. Louis family's FEMA trailer. The results were amazing.

"We started off with 180 parts per billion of formaldehyde. We put one of these small little portable plant filters on a timer, and we ran it off and on for several days. We tested again, and it reduced it down to 30 parts per billion."

Wolverton says the results, which were sent to an independent lab, provided incentive for further evaluation. He also contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but he says so far, no one from the government has shown enough interest to take the next step.

Tuesday night on WLOX News at 6pm, A.J. Giardina will have more information on the EcoPlanter system and he'll contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see why the government agency isn't testing a FEMA trailer using this air filtration system.