Evidence to Explain Chinese Drywall Injury Claims Not Found in CPSC Report
Preliminary results of a federal Chinese drywall investigation indicate that the contaminated wallboard emits higher levels of volatile gases than U.S. drywall. However, researchers were unable to find evidence that explains the defective drywall personal injury complaints and reports of health problems experienced by residents..
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released the findings of its preliminary investigation into imported Chinese drywall on Thursday. About 1,900 homeowners in 30 states have made reports to the CPSC about problems with Chinese drywall in their homes. The defective wallboard has been blamed for causing foul sulfuric odors, corroding wiring and electrical appliances, and has been associated with various health complaints, such as headaches, nose bleeds and respiratory problems.
In July, the CPSC reported that it was conducting testing at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to isolate specific emissions, and began air sampling in 50 homes. The results released this week came from the laboratory test and 10 of the 50 homes sampled. A more comprehensive study is scheduled to be released next month.
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CPSC researchers found that Chinese drywall emits a higher rate of total volatile sulfur gases than drywall made in the U.S. They also found that Chinese drywall also contains strontium in higher amounts than drywall made domestically.
Strontium is an alkaline metal that is very chemically reactive to oxygen and water. It oxidizes quickly, can ignite at room temperature, and is often used in the construction of fireworks and flares. Strontium isotopes are often found in nuclear fallout, but CPSC scientists said that the amounts of strontium found in Chinese drywall carries no radiological threat.
Contrary to claims of many people who have lived in homes with the contaminated drywall, the scientists were unable to find anything that accounts for Chinese drywall injury cases. However, the report noted that investigations into the drywall are not complete, and researchers are continuing to look for a possible source of the problems.
“We understand that this problem has, literally, driven people from their homes,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum in a press release issued with the report. “To those families we would like to say that we are driving as hard as we can to find out what is causing these health symptoms and corrosion problems.”
Millions of sheets of defective drywall were imported from China into the United States between 2004 and 2007, due to a domestic shortage caused by a housing boom and construction following a serious of hurricanes that struck the southeastern United States. The CPSC has confirmed more 6 million sheets were imported into the country in 2006.
Chinese drywall lawsuits have been filed by homeowners throughout the United States against drywall manufacturers and distributers. In June, all of the federal drywall litigation was consolidated and centralized in an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation. The cases were assigned to U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon, who has put the cases on a “fast track,” with trials involving property damage claims set to begin in early 2010.
The first trials will be property damage-only claims, for cases involving Chinese drywall problems like corroding electrical equipment, and homeowners had to have their houses gutted and partially rebuilt in order to get rid of the sulfuric gases.
tomOctober 30, 2009 at 11:05 pm
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