CPSC Seeking Info on Chinese Drywall Fires

Federal safety regulators are seeking information on fires that might be related to defective Chinese drywall. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has asked fire safety professionals nationwide to alert it of any fires that could be related to the tainted wallboard.

Since late 2008, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received about 3,000 reports from residents in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico regarding defective Chinese drywall. 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. These gases also produce a sulfurous odor that permeates homes, and cause metals, including air conditioning coils and even jewelry, to corrode. People living with Chinese drywall have also suffered eye, respiratory and sinus problems that may be linked to the gases.

The drywall problems have forced many people out of their homes, and some families are dealing with the heavy financial burden of paying both rent and mortgage payments. Those unable to afford additional rent have no choice but to stay in their potentially hazardous homes. Homeowners insurance does not cover damage from Chinese drywall, and builders have estimated that remediating a home with Chinese drywall could cost as much as $100,000.

In an alert released this month, the CPSC said it is not aware of any corroborated fire incidents that may be linked to Chinese drywall. But because the fumes from the drywall are causing electrical wiring to corrode, there are fears that such incidents could occur.

Fires suspected of being related to the presence of Chinese drywall should be reported to the CPSC’s Rik Khanna at rkhanna@cpsc.gov or 301-504-7546 or Andrew Trotta at atrotta@cpsc.gov or 301-504-7578.

At least 3,000 people from across the country have filed suit over defective Chinese drywall. All of the Chinese drywall lawsuits filed in federal courts have been consolidated in the US District Court in New Orleans under Judge Eldon E. Fallon as part of a multidistrict litigation. The first trial in that lawsuit began last month.

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