Drywall News Roundup

Ben Somberg

July 2, 2009

A string of recent developments have brought the issue of contaminated drywall back into the headlines (we last wrote about the issue here).

Last week EPA released the results of tests it did on two Chinese drywall samples taken from a Florida home. They found sulfur, as well as two organic compounds associated with acrylic paints (all not usually in drywall). They also found strontium at much higher levels than usual for drywall.

On Thursday, the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee (got that?) held a hearing on drywall. The CPSC's Lori Saltzman tried to assure the Senators that the agency was addressing the problem, and referred the committee to www.cpsc.gov/drywall, but as of Wednesday morning it's a dead URL. The agency does have information for the public here.

Dr. David Krause, of the Florida Department of Health, testified that Florida health officials first received reports of sulfur-like odors in homes in August 2008. He tweaked federal agencies: "Initial hesitation by Federal agencies to fully engage the necessary resources is transforming into a more active partnership."

Krause also gave some information for the public: "The great variability of odors experienced in effected homes suggests that odor is a poor predictor of this problem. However black corrosion of copper on air conditioning coils and other Freon-carrying lines was a consistent visual indicator in homes with this problem." (FL DOH has published a "self-assessment guide")

A number of members of congress have been speaking more forcefully about the issue. This one's not going away anytime soon.

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