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Chinese Drywall Scandal Prompts Push for New Regulations

Jan 4, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

Florida lawmakers are considering new laws that would help avoid a repeat of the past year's Chinese drywall debacle.

A bill scheduled to be debated in the Florida legislature this spring would require the state Department of Health and the Florida Building Commission to come up with new drywall standards. If a piece of drywall contained a high enough level of sulfur, it would be banned from use. It is likely that any standards imposed by the state would be minimum standards, and would allow for local governments to enact even stricter regulations.

Lawmakers in the state are hoping that a way of testing drywall for sulfur can be found that is efficient and cost effective.  They have stated that they do not want to overly burden the construction industry in the state, which has already been hit hard by the recession.  However, as the Chinese drywall crisis has already proven, inaction could be far more costly than additional regulations for wallboard.

Of the more than 2,700 complaints regarding Chinese drywall made to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), most – 1,615 – have come from Florida. Gases emitted from Chinese drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. These gases also produce a sulfurous odor that permeates homes, and cause metals, including air conditioning coils and even jewelry, to corrode. People living with Chinese drywall have also suffered eye, respiratory and sinus problems that may be linked to the gases.

Tests released in November by the CPSC of 51 homes confirmed that the presence of hydrogen sulfide is the essential component that causes copper and silver sulfide corrosion found in Chinese drywall homes.

It is estimated that the proper remediation of a home with Chinese drywall could cost as much as $100,000.

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