Chinese Drywall Remediation Guidance Released by CPSC

Federal investigators have released final guidance on repairing homes with toxic Chinese drywall, recommending that homeowners replace smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, but finding that gas service piping and most fire sprinklers are unaffected. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released the updated Chinese drywall remediation guidance on September 15, in association with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The two agencies say that this final report, combined with previous guidance, should fully address how to repair homes that suffered from corrosion and toxic fumes caused by Chinese drywall.

The CPSC reports that since 2009, it has received 3,905 toxic Chinese drywall reports from residents in 42 states and the District of Columbia, American Samoa and Puerto Rico. All of the reports were from people whose homes or businesses contained Chinese drywall and were subsequently filled with toxic fumes, causing corrosion of electrical appliances and fixtures. In some cases, the Chinese drywall was suspected of causing health problems. While the corrosion and fumes were confirmed by laboratory testing, there has been no confirmation of health problems caused by the toxic drywall.

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The latest remediation guidance is written to provide instruction for homeowners and businesses that want to repair the damage to their homes caused by the drywall’s corrosive properties. The CPSC and HUD determined that none of the studies showed substantial hazards to smoke alarms, fire sprinkler heads or gas service piping. However, there were some instances of performance changes with some smoke alarms and fire sprinkler heads.

The CPSC recommended that homeowners replace smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms as part of Chinese drywall remediation. It also recommended that fusible-type sprinkler heads also be replaced.

While some corrosion was detected on gas service piping, it did not threaten the integrity of the pipes and the CPSC and HUD determined that home owners did not have to have them replaced after Chinese drywall removal, which could save property owners and insurance companies covering Chinese drywall damage a significant amount of money.

Millions of sheets of the toxic drywall were imported into the United States from China over the last decade due to a domestic shortage caused by a housing boom and construction following a serious of hurricanes that struck the southeastern United States. Most of the complaints have come from Florida and Louisiana, but the CPSC reports that complaints have come in from 42 different states and two U.S. territories.

Hundreds of homeowners throughout the United States have filed lawsuits over Chinese drywall, naming manufacturers, distributors and builders. In June 2009, all of the federal drywall litigation was consolidated and centralized in an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation, in New Orleans under U.S. District Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon.

Judge Fallon has already overseen a number of large Chinese drywall settlements between homeowners, Chinese drywall suppliers and insurance companies.


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