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Stand 'n Seal Dangers Still Ignored by CPSC

Oct 31, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP

Stand ‘n Seal, a do-it-yourself grout sealant sold by Home Depot, has caused serious lung injuries to hundreds of people.   Despite the fact that this dangerous product was recalled in August 2005, many new Stand ‘n Seal injuries were reported long after the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) ordered the recall.   That’s because the company that manufactured Stand ‘n Seal, Roanoke Companies (now known as BRTT), was allowed by the CPSC to market a new version of Stand ‘n Seal.  The CPSC simply took Roanoke’s word that the new Stand ‘n Seal was safe, and even now, a page on the CPSC website states that the Stand ‘n Seal recall only applies to the version of the sealant sold through June 2005.

Yet according to an investigation aired on CNN, the new Stand ‘n Seal was no safer than the old version.   The CNN investigation reported on instances of people becoming ill from Stand ‘n Seal long after the CPSC’s 2005 recall.  In one particular case, a doctor developed “chemical pneumonia’ after using Stand ‘n Seal to finish tile work in his bathroom.   The doctor followed all the directions on the Stand ‘n Seal label, and ventilated the area where he was working.  But a few hours later, he could not breathe and was rushed to the emergency room.  Stand ‘n Seal had damaged 30% of his lungs, and he spent days in intensive care as a result.  Even now, he is unable to walk stairs without difficulty.  According to CNN, the doctor was able to purchase the Stand ‘n Seal that injured him two months after the recall.   What’s more, the particular can of Stand ‘n Seal he purchased was not even included in the CPSC recall.

What the doctor and so many other Stand ‘n Seal victims purchased was a new, supposedly safer version of the toxic product.  The only problem was that Roanoke was making the new Stand ‘n Seal with the same chemical, Flexipel, which had made people sick in the first place.  The company had only added a new chemical to give Stand ‘n Seal a stronger odor, which was meant to warn users that their work area needed ventilating.

The CPSC allowed the new Stand ‘n Seal to go on the market without testing the product.   That’s because the 400-employee agency does not have the laboratory facilities to conduct the kinds of tests that would have found that Stand ‘n Seal was still dangerous.  Yet despite receiving hundreds of reports of lung injuries related to the new Stand ‘n Seal, neither Roanoke nor the CPSC moved to take the product off the market.  In fact, Roanoke blamed users for the problems with Stand ‘n Seal, insisting that consumers weren’t following directions to ventilate work areas.

It wasn’t until March 2007 that Home Depot, facing hundreds of Stand ‘n Seal lawsuits, finally admitted there was a problem.  At that time, Home Depot conceded that the new version of Stand ‘n Seal still contained Flexipel.  The retailer removed Stand ‘n Seal from the market this spring, and is offering refunds to anyone who purchased the defective product.

For its part, the CPSC has been seemingly oblivious to the dangers posed by the “safe” version of Stand ‘n Seal.  According to CNN, the recall notice posted on the CPSC’s website says that Stand ‘n Seal purchased after June 2005 is safe.   What’s worse, a CNN reporter called the CPSC’s public hotline recently and was told the very same thing from a telephone representative.

The CPSC is supposed to protect consumers from dangerous products, but it has failed the public in the case of Stand ‘n Seal.  There is no way to know how many people purchased toxic Stand ‘n Seal following the 2005 recall, and many of them could still have it in their homes.   Had the CPSC acted on reports that the new Stand ‘n Seal was still dangerous, possibly hundreds of serious injuries could have been avoided.

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