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CPSC Team In Florida to Inspect Homes with Chinese Drywall

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The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)  has started inspecting homes in Florida that were built with defective Chinese drywall .  According to HeraldTribune.com, the CPSC has had investigators in Florida for several weeks now, but they only recently began to conduct formal assessments of individual homes.  The CPSC’s 5-member team consists of two engineers and a toxicologist, along with the commission’s director of defect investigations, HeraldTribune.com said.

If the CPSC investigation finds that the Chinese drywall poses a safety hazard, it has the power to stop sales of the material, and bar it from entering the country.  According to HeraldTribune.com, the commission could also issue a recall, and subpoena drywall-related records from builders, suppliers and manufacturers.

According to HeraldTribune.com, the Florida Health Department has received at least 155 complaints about Chinese drywall that produces a “rotten eggs” odor in homes.  The fumes from the drywall have also been linked to corroding metals in many of the homes, and people living with the material have reported sinus and respiratory problems. Many Florida homeowners have had to leave their homes because the Chinese drywall has made them unlivable, and some builders in the state are scrambling to gut homes and replace the drywall.

Usually, drywall is manufactured in the United States, but a shortage between 2004 and 2006 prompted many builders to buy drywall from China. Most of the reported problems stem from drywall imported from China during Florida’s construction boom years of 2004-2005. Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. of China, a subsidiary of German-based manufacturer Knauf Group, is the company at the focus of Florida’s drywall problems.

Late last week, the state health department released preliminary results from tests of three samples of Chinese drywall. Those tests found that the Chinese drywall contained higher levels of sulfuric and organic compounds than an American sample tested. The report recommended further testing to determine whether the organic or sulfur compounds detected where to blame for the problems seen in Florida homes.

The three Chinese samples — including one made by Knauf — all contained traces of strontium sulfide while the American sample did not, BradentonHerald.com said. Strontium sulfide is a gray powder that emits a hydrogen sulfide, or “rotten eggs,” odor when exposed to moist air, BradentonHerald.com said.

The three Chinese samples also contained hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and carbon disulfide. All of these compounds are potentially toxic, and carbon disulfide in liquid form is extremely flammable. These were also found in the American sample, but could have been contaminated by the other samples as all had been shipped together, the report said.

Finally, the report said the tests found that Chinese drywall gave off a sulfur odor “when exposed to extreme heat and moisture. It is clear that exposure to moisture accelerates the release of volatiles from the drywall.”

Unfortunately, it is becoming apparent that problems involving defective Chinese drywall go far beyond Florida.  As we reported earlier this week,  a Virginia builder, The Dragas Companies, has confirmed that some of the homes it built contain Chinese drywall.  The company is in the process of inspecting is nearly every one of its homes in two developments in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, and is also paying to fix homes with imported drywall and helping residents relocate for a few months while the work is being done.

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