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Chinese Drywall Homeowners Anxiously Await Investigation Findings

Aug 6, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Federal regulators are expected to release the findings of Chinese drywall investigations in September.  According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, if the investigations conclude that a “substantial” electrical, fire or health hazard exists, homeowners living with Chinese drywall will face some tough choices.

For months now, we have reported on homeowner complaints regarding Chinese drywall. Earlier this year, tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that Chinese-manufactured drywall contained elevated levels of strontium sulfide, as well as several organic compounds associated with the production of acrylic paint which were not present in samples of U.S.-made drywall.

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), most of the 810 Chinese drywall complaints it has received since last December have come from Florida (621). The state with the second highest count is Louisiana (105). Others have come from consumers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

The CPSC, the Centers for Disease Control, the EPA, and many state health departments are investigating the Chinese drywall.  The results of some of those investigations are expected next month.  According to The Wall Street Journal, if a “substantial” electrical, fire or health hazard is found to exist, a recall could be issued.  But where exactly would that leave homeowners?

The cost to remove and replace tainted drywall and corroded electrical wiring and appliances in an average size home runs around $100,000, the Journal said. Most homeowners simply don't have that kind of money.  Some are hoping the government will step in and offer assistance, while many others have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers and others they say are responsible for the drywall debacle.

One Florida couple told The Wall Street Journal that if the drywall is found to be dangerous, and there is no help forthcoming, they would be forced to choose between the health of their family and their financial well-being.  They fear they may have to walk away from their home to protect their family's health - a move that would devastate their credit.

Thousands of homeowners could soon find themselves in that position if the worst fears are realized and Chinese drywall is found to be hazardous.  According to The Wall Street Journal, some 500 million pounds of Chinese drywall was imported to the U.S. during the housing boom.  That means as many as 100,000 homes could have been built with the material.


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