Chinese Drywall Legislation Passes House

Legislation addressing the nationwide Chinese drywall problem has been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. According to heraldtribune.com, the law -an amendment to the “Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act”- calls for an immediate investigation of the Chinese drywall issue.

This marks the first time a law related to Chinese drywall has passed in Congress. The measure must still pass the Senate.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the U.S. imported roughly 309 million square feet of drywall from China during the housing boom from 2004 to 2007. The material reportedly emits sulfur fumes that produce a “rotten eggs” odor and cause metals, such as air conditioning coils, to corrode. The fumes have also been associated with respiratory and sinus problems in some residents. In some homes, the drywall problems have been so severe that families have had to move, and some builders have begun gutting and replacing drywall in the buildings.

While the first Chinese drywall complaints came from homeowners in Florida, it has become clear that the problem is a national one. Reports of defective Chinese drywall have now been recorded in Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. It seems the warm, humid climate in the south encourages the drywall to emit sulfur fumes. Some experts fear that in cooler, dryer areas of the country, it could be years before Chinese drywall problems finally surface.

The amendment to the House mortgage bill was proposed by Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, heraldtribune.com said. The law would require the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with the Treasury Department, to study the problem and report their findings and recommendations within 120 days. The probe would focus on how many home foreclosures involve houses built or remodeled using Chinese drywall. Finally, federal agencies would also have to determine if property insurance was available to homes discovered to have such defective drywall present.

As we reported previously, a team from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has been in Florida trying to determine if the fumes coming from Chinese drywall pose a health risk. The CPSC is also seeking $2 million in additional funding for its drywall probe.

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