November 24, 2009

Officials Investigate Health Affects Of Chinese Drywall

A new study showed a significant link between indoor pollution in homes with drywall imported from China, leading U.S. officials to take a deeper look at the affect that the product has on health.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), it will be heading up an investigation into finding the origin and distribution of the drywall as well as the connection between the drywall and the reported health symptoms, and electrical and fire safety issues that some home owners reported.

Some of the drywall, or sheets of plaster used for home interiors, is associated with the health issues was used in reconstruction in the south after the destruction of hurricanes, reported AFP.

The agency is finally jumping into action after receiving months of complaints from consumers and local officials who claimed that defective drywall from China was leaking chemicals that caused illness and safety problems.

"Results from a major indoor air study of 51 homes are being released today along with initial reports from two studies of corrosion in homes with Chinese drywall," the CPSC said in a statement.

"We now can show a strong association between homes with the problem drywall and the levels of hydrogen sulfide in those homes and corrosion of metals in those homes," it added.

The CPSC contracted with a private health and engineering firm for the initial study of 35 homes using Chinese drywall and additional "control" homes.

The agency said that it is "leading the federal investigation and is working with other federal and state agencies to determine exactly what substances are in the drywall, what substances are emitting odors into the air and whether identified substances found in the air pose a safety or health hazard to families."

"This is a complicated investigation and the data must be evaluated before conclusions are made; nonetheless, the agencies and states involved share a sense of urgency in informing the public of their findings and developing safe and effective solutions," the statement said.

Around 2,000 complaints were made to federal and state officials about the drywall for health impacts as well as corrosion of electrical components.

"We now have the science that enables the Task Force to move ahead to the next phase -- to develop both a screening process and effective remediation methods," said Consumer Product Safety Commission chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

While the exact methods are still not clear, the study concluded that hydrogen sulfide gas "is being created in homes built with Chinese drywall."


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