Chinese Drywall Help Sought from White House, Federal Agencies

A group of U.S. Senators sent out a series of letters yesterday – including one that went to the White House – asking for more action on the Chinese drywall problem. Similar letters were sent to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The Consumer Products Safety Commission has received 681 complaints from residents of 22 states regarding Chinese drywall. The most reports – 510 – have come from Florida. Homeowners have complained that fumes from the Chinese drywall produce a “rotten eggs” odor that permeates their homes, and causes metal, including air conditioning coils and even jewelry, to corrode. Eye irritation, sinus problems and respiratory symptoms have also been reported among people living in homes containing Chinese drywall.

Recently, tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that Chinese-manufactured drywall contained elevated levels of strontium sulfide, as well as several organic compounds associated with the production of acrylic paint which were not present in samples of U.S.-made drywall. Recently, some concerns have arisen that some Chinese drywall could also be radioactive. According to an LA Times investigation, some Chinese drywall manufacturers used phosphogypsum – a radioactive phosphorous substance – to manufacture wallboard. At least four manufacturers told the Times that drywall made with phosphogypsum was shipped to the U.S. in 2006. Phosphogypsum contains radium which, over time, can increase lung cancer risks. Phosphogypsum has been banned in the U.S. for use in construction since 1989.

The letter to the White House was sent by Senator Bill Nelson, D-FL. According to, Nelson asked the Obama Administration to take a more active role in dealing with the Chinese drywall debacle. “What urgently is needed now is White House mobilization and coordination of all federal resources that can help homeowners,” Nelson wrote.

Nelson joined three other senators, Mary Landrieu D-LA, Mark Warner, D-VA., and Jim Webb, D-VA. – in writing to the other government agencies. According to, the Senators have asked the Small Business Administration to investigate if disaster relief loans could be made available to some Chinese drywall victims, and whether governors in states with drywall problems could declare a “physical disaster declaration”.

The letters to the Treasury and HUD sought financial relief for homeowners who have been forced to leave their homes and must pay both rent and mortgagee payments, said.

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