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Air Test Being Done on Chinese Drywall Homes

Jun 5, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Air testing on homes built with Chinese drywall has finally begun. According to BradentonHerald.com, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have already started such testing in Florida and Louisiana, and the Florida Department of Health is set to start running its own tests  next week.

Homeowners in at least 18 states have complained that fumes from Chinese-made drywall produce a “rotten eggs” odor and cause metals, such as air conditioning coils, to corrode. The fumes have also been associated with respiratory and sinus problems in some residents. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the U.S. imported roughly 309 million square feet of drywall from China during the housing boom from 2004 to 2007.  

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released results of tests it conducted that compared Chinese drywall to American-made material. The tests found sulfur and two organic compounds associated with acrylic paint in the Chinese drywall that were not present in the American wallboard.  Strontium - used in making ceramics, pyrotechnics, paint pigments, fluorescent lights and medicine - was also found at higher levels in Chinese drywall as compared to the U.S. product.

What isn't yet known is how much the fumes from the Chinese  drywall impact the quality of air in homes, and how much of a health risk this poses.  According to BradentonHerald.com, so far the EPA has tested three homes each in Florida and Louisiana.  Two of the homes in each state were built with Chinese drywall, while one in each state  contained domestically-made drywall, the report said.

The Chinese drywall problem has spurred hundreds of lawsuits, and calls for federal action to help affected homeowners.  The Consumer Products Safety Commission  (CPSC), in particular, has been criticized for a slow response to the drywall issue.  Only recently did the  agency launch an online Drywall Information Center to help homeowners keep track of the agency’s investigation. The site also has information that can help consumers determine if their homes were built with the contaminated product. Consumers can also access the site to file a drywall complaint.

The CPSC has received more than 300 complaints from homeowners in 18 states about Chinese drywall.  The agency recently sent  investigators to all states - with the exception of Wyoming - where the problems have been reported.


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