CPSC Report on American-Made Drywall Creates Confusion, Provides Few Answers

A troubling new report from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has done nothing to address concerns that American-made drywall may be causing the same types of odor and corrosion problems that have been associated with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Defective_Chinese_Drywall">Chinese drywall. The CPSC report, which was supposed to determine whether or not domestically produced drywall was subject to the same defects as Chinese drywall, has only added to confusion on the subject, critics say.

The controversy surrounding Chinese drywall has been going on for more than two years now. Since late 2008, the CPSC has received more than 3,800 reports from residents in 42 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico regarding defective Chinese drywall. Sulfurous gases emitted from Chinese drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. Some people living with the wallboard have also complained of health problems. The CPSC has recommended that homes built with defective Chinese drywall be gutted.

In November 2009, the CPSC released results from a study that showed “a strong association between homes with problem drywall and the levels of hydrogen sulfide in those homes and corrosion of metals in those homes.”

According to a report from ProPublica, as part of its investigation into domestic wallboard, the CPSC studied 11 homes built with American-made drywall that have had some of the same types of problems associated with Chinese-made wallboard. In the domestic drywall report, the CPSC said drywall in five of the houses was “consistent with problem drywall.” But the agency couldn’t confirm that the drywall was made in the U.S., writing that to do so would require “further extensive investigation and detailed documentation of the origin of the drywall in these homes.”

The CPSC would not tell ProPublica why it has not conducted a “further extensive investigation” to determine the origin of the drywall used in those homes.

The CPSC also did not conduct chamber tests on four other homes where the results were inconclusive, ProPublica said. The company that tested those homes actually recommended that the CPSC conduct the chamber testing, which most experts believe is the most reliable way to measure how much sulfur gas a piece of drywall is producing. The CPSC report cited “the relatively limited number of homes affected, the uncertainty concerning the drywall’s origins (and) agency resource constraints” for its decision not to conduct the chamber tests on those homes.

Craig Weisbruch, National Gypsum’s senior vice president for sales and marketing, told ProPublica that the CPSC’s failure to trace the origin of the drywall in the homes made the report meaningless.

“Almost any time that you have one of these Chinese drywall problems in a house you are going to find American drywall in the house too given the nature of construction,” he said. “But because of the method they used, we can’t tell what kind of board they tested.”

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