CPSC Ties Drywall, Corrosion
By MELANIE TROTTMAN and M.P. MCQUEEN
WASHINGTON — Federal regulators said Monday there is a “strong association” between chemicals emitted by Chinese drywall and metals corrosion, a finding that could pave the way for the government to help homeowners facing billions of dollars in repair bills. But who will pay for the damages remains unclear.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission said an investigation by the CPSC and other federal agencies has shown levels of hydrogen sulfide to be higher in some houses built with Chinese drywall than in those without it. The findings include results from an indoor-air study of 51 homes and two other preliminary studies on home corrosion.
“We are now ready to get to work fixing this problem,” said CPSC chief Inez Tenenbaum.
Nearly 2,100 homeowners in 32 states and Washington, D.C., have claimed their homes were damaged by chemicals emitting from Chinese drywall. Many of the affected homes were built in 2006 and after in areas of the Southeastern U.S., and most of the complaints have come from Florida and Louisiana. Some builders used the Chinese product because of a domestic shortage during the housing boom.
Homeowners have also complained of health problems such as bloody noses, headaches and asthma attacks. Regulators said more studies are needed to determine if there is a link between the drywall and health or safety issues, such as fire hazards possibly from damaged electrical wiring.
Another finding from the studies: While hydrogen sulfide gas was the “essential component” that caused copper and silver corrosion in homes where the owners complained of problems, “other factors” including air circulation, formaldehyde and other air contaminants also contributed.
The CPSC said an interagency drywall task force is working with congressional and White House officials to determine how to identify and fix affected homes and fund repairs. But it remains unclear what the remedies will be and where the money will come from. Consulting firm Towers Perrin estimates drywall damages of $15 billion to $25 billion, including litigation costs….