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CPSC Commissioner Sees Chinese Drywall Damage First Hand, Says Recall Won't be Issued

Sep 22, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

There will be no recall of defective Chinese drywall.  According to a report on News-Press.com, Inez Tenenbaum, head of the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) said that instead, her agency will establish a uniform protocol to remediate the Chinese drywall, and push Congress for a funding source to help homeowners.

Tenenbaum was in Florida yesterday to get a first-hand look at the damage done by the Chinese drywall.  According to News-Press.com, she visited the Cape Coral home of Richard and Patti Kampf, where she saw damage to plumbing fixtures and other items.  It was the first time Tenenbaum had personally viewed drywall damage, the report said.

According to NBC-News2.com, Tenenbaum's visit followed criticism from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida), who has said the CPSC has not acted quickly enough to address the Chinese drywall disaster.  Yesterday, Tenenbaum appeared to agree, saying that when she took over at the CPSC, "there was not a sense of urgency."   Tenenbaum was confirmed over the summer.

The Kampf home was included in a study of 50 homes that tested the gases emitted from the drywall, as well as air quality in the homes.  According to News-Press.com, the results of those studies will be released in October.  At that time the remediation protocol will be established, Tenenbaum said.

Tenenbaum said there will be no drywall recall because the material is not all the same, News-Press reported.  Tenenbaum pointed out that the wallboard comes from several Chinese manufacturers, the drywall is not all made the same way and some Chinese drywall does not cause problems.

So far, the CPSC has received 1,311 Chinese drywall complaints from homeowners in 26 states and the District of Columbia. Gases emitted from the 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 an sinus problems that may be linked to the gases.

Chinese drywall poured into the U.S. between 1999 and 2007 because of the high demand created by the housing boom. Imports accelerated when the rebuilding that followed Hurricane Charley in Florida in 2004, and Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast in 2005, created a drywall shortage. 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 throughout the country could have been built with the material.

Thousands of homeowners have filed lawsuits over the defective wall board. Chinese drywall lawsuits from around the country have been consolidated in a Multidistrict Litigation that is currently underway in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. The first bellwether trials in that litigation are expected to begin in January.


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