The Consumer Product Safety Commission has found a link between the imported material Chinese drywall and the corrosion problem in homes that have it. But the agency also said they don’t believe the problems are as widespread as early estimates predicted. The conclusion followed testing at 51 homes in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia that found “a strong association between the problem drywall, the hydrogen sulfide levels in homes with that drywall and corrosion in those homes.”
Over the past year, homeowners have been complaining to federal and state government agencies that their homes smell of sulfur or rotten eggs, the copper in their air-conditioning units and electrical wires in their homes are corroding and that other metals are turning black. They have also reported problems breathing, headaches and nosebleeds. But until this report, no agency had officially linked corrosion problems with drywall. The CPSC is still investigating the link between wallboard and health concerns. The report said chemicals found in the homes tested were at levels lower than what might be expected to cause irritation, but the combination of those compounds with other substances could lead to the symptoms families are experiencing.
To date, the CPSC has received 2,091 reports from residents in 32 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico who believe their health symptoms or the corrosion of certain metal components are related to Chinese drywall. The majority of those – more than 1,400 – are from Florida residents. While the problem is widespread, Wolfson said previous estimates that as many as 100,000 homes nationwide may be affected are likely incorrect. Complaints reported to state and federal agencies don’t foreshadow that large of a number.
So far the CPSC has spent about $3.5 million on its investigation, which is the largest in the history of the agency. The next phase of its work will deal with finding ways to identify problem drywall and come up with ways to treat homes. Many homeowners are pursuing lawsuits against foreign manufacturers that may well take years to resolve. You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the foreign companies are making it difficult for the victims. Only one company, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjian, has agreed to be served with a federal class-action lawsuit and not force Plaintiffs to go through international legal channels. Eventually the federal government may have to get involved. But I am not sure what will be available to homeowners from that source. The IRS could decide to allow homeowners to declare a casualty loss on returns. Some states, including Louisiana, are using federal Community Development Block Grant money to help homeowners. In any event there is a most serious problem that must be dealt with.
Source: The Miami Herald
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