Final Chinese Drywall Remediation Guidance Issued by CPSC, HUD

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has released revised guidelines for remediating <"">Chinese drywall, based on key findings from final studies that were part of the investigation the Commission conducted together with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The CPSC says it believes that compared to the previously released protocols, these new guidelines will enable homeowners to comprehensively remediate homes containing defective Chinese drywall at potentially lower costs.

According to a press release issued by the CPSC, the new Chinese Drywall remediation guidance calls for the removal of all:

• Problem drywall

• Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms

• Electrical distribution components, including receptacles

• Switches and circuit breakers (but not necessarily wiring)

• Fusible-type fire sprinkler heads

Test results have convinced the CPSC and HUD to no longer recommend the removal of gas service piping in homes with problem drywall. In addition, the agencies no longer recommend that glass bulb fire sprinkler heads be replaced in homes. However, both glass bulb sprinkler heads and gas distribution piping in affected homes be inspected and tested as part of the remediation to make sure they are working properly; any test failures should be corrected according to all applicable building codes. All fusible-type fire sprinkler heads should also be replaced, because one fusible-type sprinkler head sample that had been exposed to accelerated corrosion did not activate when tested.

To date, the CPSC says it has received 3,905 reports from residents of 42 states and the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico, who believe their health symptoms or the corrosion of certain metal components in their homes are related to problem drywall. Most of the drywall was imported into the U.S. during the housing boom of the early 2000’s, and the CPSC believes there may be as many as 6,300 U.S. homes with problem drywall. The vast majority of complaints, nore than 2,000, have come from Florida, according to the CPSC.

The Chinese drywall debacle has sparked thousands of lawsuits, including 10,000 claims currently pending in the Chinese drywall multidistrict litigation in New Orleans. Last fall, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co., a division of Knauf Group and a major manufacturer of Chinese drywall, agreed to participate in a pilot remediation program by which 300 homes in four states would be repaired. It is hoped that the program will pave the way for a settlement of all claims against Knauf.

Over the past several months, several other defendants involved in that litigation, including Florida -based Banner Supply and Interior/Exterior Building Supply L.P. of New Orleans, Louisiana, have agreed to settle Chinese drywall claims. It is expected that more settlements will be reached with other defendants in the coming months.

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