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CPSC Says Drywall In 21 States, Details Testing Programs

Jul 14, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Chinese drywall is causing problems for homeowners in 21 states and the District of Columbia, according to a new report released by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).  The commission said it has received a total of 608 complaints about Chinese drywall, with most coming from Florida, Louisiana and Virginia.

As we’ve been reporting for months now, homeowners living with Chinese drywall have reported that it fills homes with a putrid, “rotten-eggs” odor and causes metals to corrode. Some have complained of sinus and respiratory problems that occur while they are in their homes. According to tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ) Chinese drywall samples were found to contain sulfur and two organic compounds associated with acrylic paint in that were not present in the American wallboard. Recently, new concerns were raised that some Chinese drywall could also be radioactive. According to an LA Times investigation, some Chinese drywall manufacturers use phosphogypsum - a radioactive phosphorous substance - to make wallboard. At least four firms told the Times that drywall made with phosphogypsum was shipped to the U.S. in 2006.

According to this recent report, the CPSC sent a four member team to Florida in March to investigate drywall complaints. At four homes in the Tampa area, the team  observed first hand the noxious odors and corroding metals  that have been the subject of so many Chinese drywall complaints.  While in those homes, the CPSC team members experienced throat irritation, burning eyes, headache and other symptoms.  Those symptoms dissipated shortly after the team members left the homes, the CPSC said.

The report said the CPSC is pursing  three tracts of testing to determine if Chinese drywall poses a health threat.  These tracts include elemental testing to characterize the components of both domestic and  Chinese drywall; chamber studies to isolate the drywall's chemical emissions; and in-home indoor sampling that will be conducted in 35 homes from the CPSC's complaint databases,  and 15 control homes.

The agency also said it would be conducting an Engineering Sciences tests program to determine the affect of drywall fumes on electrical/gas/HVAC units.  The testing will asses if damage to such units pose fire and shock hazards.  CPSC engineering staff have visited a townhouse in Virginia and two homes in Louisiana as part of these testing efforts.

Finally, the CPSC reported  that it had launched an online Drywall Information Center.  This site provides consumers with the latest information on technical developments and news about drywall.

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