Chinese Drywall Bills Introduced in Florida Senate

A Florida lawmaker is pushing the state legislature to act on the Chinese drywall crisis. According to Bradenton.com, Sen. David Aronberg, D-Greenacres, says he is tired of waiting for the state’s governor and the federal government to do something about the Chinese drywall problem that is plaguing thousands of Florida homeowners.

Of the more than 2,700 complaints regarding Chinese drywall made to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), most – 1,615 – have come from Florida. Chinese drywall poured into the U.S. between 1999 and 2007 because of the high demand created by the housing boom. Imports accelerated when the rebuilding that followed Hurricane Charley in Florida in 2004, and Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast in 2005, created a drywall shortage. According to an earlier Wall Street Journal report, some 500 million pounds of Chinese drywall was imported to the U.S. during the housing boom. That means as many as 100,000 homes throughout the country could have been built with the material.

Last summer, tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency found that Chinese-manufactured drywall contained elevated levels of strontium sulfide, as well as the presence of several organic compounds associated with the production of acrylic paint that were not present in samples of U.S.-made drywall. Other tests released in November by the CPSC of 51 homes confirmed that the presence of hydrogen sulfide is the essential component that causes copper and silver sulfide corrosion found in Chinese drywall homes. Federal investigators are still trying to determine what health risks exposure to drywall gases might pose.

The Chinese drywall problem first came to light in Florida in late 2008. The state department of health began its investigation then, and the CPSC began a multi-agency investigation in 2009. In that time, little has been done to help Chinese drywall homeowners, many of whom have been forced from their homes. Many face the prospect of financial ruin, as the presence of tainted drywall makes their homes nearly worthless. It is estimated that remediating a home with Chinese drywall could cost as much as $100,000.

According to Bradenton.com, Aronberg had already asked Florida Governor Charlie Crist to form a drywall task force, but that has not been done. Frustrated, Aronberg has now introduced several bills in the Florida Senate aimed at helping the state’s Chinese drywall homeowners. One bill calls for the formation of a 19-member task force that would include a health official, a homeowner with Chinese drywall, a physician, an attorney, a consumer advocate and a representative of the drywall industry. The task force would, among other things, study the drywall’s health risks, and set remediation standards. The bill would also direct the Florida Building Commission to set limits on the amounts of sulfur and strontium within drywall and ban the use of any drywall that exceeds those limits.

Aronberg has also introduced a bill that would require the state to establish licensing standards for those remediating Chinese drywall, while another would lead to minimum inspection requirements for metal corrosion in homes with Chinese drywall, Bradenton.com said.

Similar bills have not been introduced in Florida’s House, but according to Bradenton.com, Aronberg said he is working with a state representative who plans to introduce such legislation.

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