The Federal Emergency Management Agency is embroiled in a controversy again over dangerous formaldehyde levels in housing provided to disaster victims. The news comes just weeks after a federal judge refused to grant the agency immunity from lawsuits filed by displaced Gulf Coast hurricane survivors over their exposure to the respiratory irritant and carcinogen.

The CBS affiliate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa recently arranged to have 20 of the more than 500 trailers provided to families displaced by flooding in the state earlier this year checked by an accredited chemical testing company, Advanced Chemical Sensor of Florida. Only units where residents did not smoke were tested, since cigarette smoke contains formaldehyde.

On Monday, KGAN-TV aired its findings, reporting that 18 of the 20 trailers had higher formaldehyde levels than what FEMA had posted inside following its own tests -- some of the levels 10 times higher. The tests also found that six of the homes had formaldehyde levels that were unsafe for people according to standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and American Lung Association.

Some residents of the more than 560 FEMA trailers throughout eastern Iowa are complaining of health problems similar to those reported by trailer inhabitants along the Gulf, including persistent coughs, headaches and asthma attacks.

The TV station also documented problems with FEMA's response to the problem. The agency had distributed to Iowa trailer residents a fact sheet that included a hotline for people with formaldehyde concerns -- but when people tried to call it, they got a message that the line was closed. When one woman managed to reach the main FEMA help line, she was given the number for the non-working line.

FEMA spokesperson Wall Armstead told KGAN that high formaldehyde levels found inside the trailers are not FEMA's fault and suggested people may be bringing the chemical home from work on their clothes. The agency said it doesn't plan to re-test units unless there are many complaints or the state of Iowa orders them to do so.