New guidelines released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) say that thousands of U.S. homes tainted by Chinese drywall should be gutted
, and electrical wiring, outlets, circuit breakers, fire alarm systems, carbon monoxide alarms, fire sprinklers and gas pipes need to be removed.
Inez Tenenbaum, chairwoman of the commission, wants families to tear it all out and rebuild the interior of their homes to get their lives started all over again.
Thousands of homeowners, primarily in Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana have reported problems with the Chinese-made drywall that was imported in large quantities during the housing boom and after a string of Gulf Coast hurricanes according to reports
The Chinese-made drywall was linked to corrosion of wiring, air conditioning units, computers, doorknobs and jewelry, as well as possible adverse health effects. Some of the samples of the imported drywall emit 100 times as much hydrogen sulfide as drywall that is made elsewhere.
Throat, Nose and Lung Irritations and High Levels of Hydrogen Sulfide Gas Linked to Drywall
Investigations into possible health effects are being conducted, but preliminary studies have found a potential link between throat, nose and lung irritations and high levels of hydrogen sulfide gas emitted from the drywall, coupled with formaldehyde which is commonly found in new houses.
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-FL), questions who is going to gut the homes. The way he sees it, homeowners didn't cause the problem. The manufacturers in China did. "That's why we've got to go after the Chinese government now" he said
Southern members of Congress have tried making it easier to sue Chinese manufacturers and getting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help homeowners pay for costs that are not covered by insurance. They also want to pressure the Chinese government, which allegedly ran some of the companies that made defective drywall according to the report
Approximately 2,100 homeowners filed suit in federal court in New Orleans against Chinese manufacturers and U.S. companies that sold the drywall. Thousands more homeowners claims against Chinese manufacturers are pending. A ruling against the Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co., the only Chinese company that has responded to U.S. lawsuits, by U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon is expected soon.
CPSC Received Over 3,000 Reports From 37 States, District of Columbia, American Samoa and Puerto Rico
Daniel Becnel, a New Orleans lawyer that is representing Chinese drywall plaintiffs, including Sean Payton, head coach of the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, said the guidelines issued Friday by the government were exactly what their experts said. He also said that Congress should give homeowners grants to cover the cost of gutting their homes.
Some homeowners involved in the lawsuit are still living in their homes with the tainted Chinese drywall. In some cases, homebuilders have paid to gut and rewire homes. Other homeowners who can afford it have paid for the work themselves. Knauf Plasterboard has offered to pay for remedying homes where its drywall was installed.
71-year-old Joyce Dowdy and her 63-year-old husband of Cape Coral, FL plan on moving out of their $150,000, 1,600-square-foot home while it's being gutted to remove the tainted Chinese drywall. Joyce suffers from nose bleeds and her husband has a persistent cough which they blame on the drywall.
The Dowdy's have to borrow money -- it's costing as much to fix the house as it did to buy it -- to get their house gutted, which means they'll be paying monthly to cover the costs of repair instead of enjoying a mortgage-free retirement. They can't walk away because their house is worth nothing at the moment.
The CPSC has received over 3,000 reports from residents in 37 states, 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 the tainted Chinese drywall. More information can be found from the CPSC Drywall Information Center