Declare Chinese Drywall An Emergency, Congressman Tells Gov. Crist

A Florida Congressman is asking the state’s governor to declare an emergency over defective Chinese drywall

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. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fl) has also introduced legislation in Congress calling for a study and a federal ban on dangerous drywall.

Chinese drywall has been linked to serious problems in homes across the country. In Florida – ground zero for drywall complaints – the health department has received over 150 complaints of Chinese drywall that emits a “rotten eggs” odor and causes 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.

Other states reporting drywall problems include Virginia, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. According to the consumer group America’s Watchdog, drywall from China was likely used in the Deep South, the Midwest, the Southwest and the Pacific Northwest, including Vancouver, British Columbia, and even Hawaii. Some estimates say Chinese drywall may have been used in as many as 100,000 U.S. homes.

According to as statement released by his office, Rep. Wexler has written to Governor Charlie Crist urging him to declare a State of Emergency in Florida. Such a designation will allow state and local officials to work with affected Florida families and petition for funding for repairs from the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA), Wexler’s statement said.

He has also introduced the Drywall Safety Act of 2009 which requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to examine Chinese drywall and make recommendations as to whether new safety standards are necessary to ensure drywall is safe for use in residential construction. The legislation also establishes an immediate ban on any drywall that constitutes a safety hazard.

“I have been contacted by parents whose young children have developed bronchitis, pneumonia, and other respiratory illnesses that have required hospitalization, and even surgery,” Rep. Wexler said in the statement. “Passing this legislation and declaring Florida to be in a State of Emergency is the first step towards petitioning FEMA for financial assistance in repairing these homes and protecting the health and safety of these hardworking citizens.”

The drywall legislation Wexler introduced in the House is a companion to a similar bill recently introduced in the Senate by Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL). That proposed legislation calls for a recall of the tainted Chinese drywall, as well as a temporary import ban on the material.

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