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CPSC Releases Additional Chinese Drywall Results

CPSC Releases Additional Chinese Drywall Results

On November 23, 2009, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released additional information in its ongoing review of the corrosive effects of Chinese drywall.  The CPSC released the results of a 51-home indoor air quality study, an electrical component corrosion study, and a fire safety component corrosion study.  The executive summary of the CPSC’s release is found here.

The 51-home study found a strong association between contaminated Chinese drywall, the hydrogen sulfide levels in homes having that drywall, and corrosion in those homes.  The related studies of corrosion of metal components in the homes also found supporting information linking the hydrogen sulfide levels in the homes and corrosion of metal home components.  Corrosion of copper wiring was most prevalent where the bare copper was exposed.  Insulation on copper wiring appeared to protect the wiring from corrosion.  Ongoing work will be done to consider the potential effects of long-term exposures.  The CPSC has identified potential technologies that will allow for testing homes for problem drywall without destroying the drywall in the process.

The CPSC notes that occupants of some of the homes with contaminated Chinese drywall report upper airway, skin and eye irritation, although the concentrations of known irritants in the sample homes were below irritant levels.  The CPSC nonetheless is considering that the combination of these irritants with other comounds in the subject homes might be causing the reported effects.

The task force reviewing the Chinese drywall issues now will enter into a new phase of the project by developing a protocol for testing homes for corrosive drywall and considering processes to address the contaminated drywall and its effects.  This will include possible remediation options.

Policymakers at the federal and state levels have inquired of residential property insurers in Florida how they are responding to insured homes found to have contaminated drywall.  In general, a personal residential insurance policy will exclude coverage for construction or repair-related issues such as defective workmanship or materials.  Nonetheless, the potential for losses at levels beyond those contemplated in insurers’ existing rates necessitates continued monitoring of issues relating to contaminated Chinese drywall and possible remediation efforts faciltiated by the federal or state government.