Some Answers on Chinese Drywall Expected This Week

Chinese drywall victims might finally get some answers this week. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is expected to release the results of initial testing on Chinese and domestically produced drywall any day now. An additional two reports should be ready next month.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, the CPSC has received over 1,700 complaints regarding Chinese drywall from homeowners across the country. 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.

Earlier this year, tests conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found sulfur and two organic compounds associated with acrylic paint — compounds not found in samples of American-made drywall – in samples of Chinese drywall. The EPA report did not draw any conclusions about health risks or whether the drywall could be damaging wires in homes. The CPSC has been conducting its own investigation, and has postponed releasing testing results in the past.

Last week, the head of the CPSC attended a product safety summit in China. She met with her counterpart at China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ). At the end of the summit, both parties released a joint statement pledging to work together to improve product safety. They also promised to cooperate on “scientific and fact-based investigations” into Chinese drywall imports. “It is CPSC’s and AQSIQ’s intention to determine the cause of the reported problems, with the goal of ensuring that the problems do not recur,” the statement said.

The Chinese drywall disaster is just the latest scandal involving imports from that country. In 2008, nearly 80 percent of all product recalls in the U.S. involved imports from China. Products like dog food, baby formula, toys with lead paint and even pharmaceuticals like heparin have been found to have been made with toxic materials and other counterfeit ingredients, putting U.S. consumers at risk.

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