May 4, 2009

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Update on Chinese Drywall

A team of CPSC scientists, lawyers, engineers, and compliance staff provided a briefing to Congress recently over the safety of imported Chinese drywall. Earlier this year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a "multi-track" action plan to comprehensively and aggressively investigate complaints about health symptoms and metal corrosion problems caused by imported Chinese drywall. The Commission's investigation is currently proceeding simultaneously on several tracks including: (1) evaluating the relationship between the drywall and the reported health symptoms; (2) evaluating the relationship between the drywall and electrical and fire safety issues in the home; and (3) tracing the origin and distribution of the drywall. The investigation includes field work, chamber studies on drywall samples, in-home air monitoring, and other various studies and safety testing. Field investigators have been permanently stationed in each of the affected states and additional staff is being shifted to some particular areas. Also, the CPSC has made an emergency budget request to Congress to further advance the ongoing investigation. The Agency indicated that their significant challenge has been figuring out how much tainted drywall there is in any house, given that it is already installed, likely painted, and/or may not be clearly marked. The drywall could fill the home or be just a few sheets. With respect to the health complaints (including persistent cough, bloody noses, sinus infection, recurrent headaches, asthma attacks, and dry eyes), the CPSC admits that "any such relationship or long-term health effects are unknown."

The Agency has not issued a recall of the products because it cannot order one without a trial. "Our case on behalf of consumers will have to be driven by scientific proof linking the drywall and the health problems or the electrical and fire safety issues, which we are aggressively pursuing," the CPSC indicated.

Click here to view update from CPSC

Click here to view letter from CPSC to Florida Senator Bill Nelson dated 5/1/09

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