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Scope of Chinese Drywall Problem Still to Be Determined

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Exactly how extensive is the  Chinese drywall problem?  According to a report in the Miami Herald, no one really knows.

So far, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received 2,091 reports from residents in 32 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico concerning Chinese drywall.  But since the Chinese drywall scandal first broke, various media outlets have reported that the tainted wallboard could have been used to build 100,000 U.S. homes. 

The larger  number was based on a couple of factors, including import and shipping records.  According to the Herald, by the CPSC’s own count,  7 million boards of drywall were imported from China to the during building and post-hurricane reconstruction boom.  If all of that wallboard was used, and all of it was defective, the 100,000 number makes sense.

According to the Miami Herald, the CPSC says the 100,000 number is too high. The agency says not all of the imported drywall was used, and maintains all of it may not have been defective.

But advocates for drywall victims say the CPSC estimates are off – by a lot.  For one thing, lawyers for victims say the number of calls they have received, and continue to receive, about Chinese drywall indicate the problem is much more far reaching than the CPSC’s estimates indicate.

Even the CPSC acknowledges that it has not heard from every homeowner in the U.S. who is experiencing a drywall issue.  Homeowners may be reluctant to report their drywall problems to the CPSC.  In some instances, homeowners  fear losing insurance coverage over a drywall problem, or they have already accepted a builder’s offer to replace the material for free, the Miami Herald said.

In  many areas of the country where Chinese drywall was used, the problem may have yet to manifest itself.  For now, most complaints have come from states in the southwest, like Florida and Louisiana, where high rates of humidity encourage the material to emit sulfur gases.

An attorney representing Chinese drywall victims told the Herald that the much larger estimate will be proven valid during the first drywall-related trial that is scheduled to begin in late January in New Orleans federal court.

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