U.S. Hearings Open Today on Chinese Drywall: Another Import Made with Reckless Abandon

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If this nasty rust is what toxic Chinese-made wallboard can do to your home’s pipes, imagine what it can do to your own.

More about that will become known when the Senate subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance opens a long-awaited congressional hearing today (May 21) on the defective product, which is being linked to health problems. Subcommittee member U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. has been pushing for the hearing for several weeks.

“We now know there are three things in there that aren’t in other drywall samples. We’ve got the what, and now we need the why and how do we fix it?” said Nelson.

The Palm Beach Post reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent letters this month to the Florida Department of Health and the Department of Homeland Security revealing the results of tests done on four samples of American and two samples of Chinese wallboard.

Chinese samples showed to be 83 parts per million and 119 parts per million of sulfur. Sulfur was not found in any of the American samples. Also, a metal analysis found the presence of strontium at significantly higher levels than in the American samples. Strontium sulfide is known to emit corrosive gases in moist air.

Two organic compounds, which are found in acrylic paints, were also found in the foreign product and not in the domestic wallboard.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal agencies are investigating complaints that the drywall is causing health problems. So far, the Florida Health Department has told homeowners more testing is needed to link the drywall to ailments.

For now, builders are the ones taking the heat for the wallboard installed in thousands of Florida homes and in other states between 2000 and 2008. Lawsuits have been filed by homeowners stuck with a product that emits sulfuric odors and gases responsible for corroding electrical wiring, air conditioning components, bathroom fixtures such as toilet handles and silver jewelry.

During a different Senate subcommittee meeting this week on how to hold foreign manufacturers accountable, a Mobile, Ala.-based home builder shared his problems with Chinese drywall and the difficulties he’s had getting a response. Chuck Stefan of The Mitchell Company argued no one has helped to find a solution to the mess, or even called him back about the crisis.

Did builders have any way to know the Chinese-made product was yet another defective import from the people who bought us toxic toys and tainted milk? If not, I don’t see how they can be blamed. For the sake of our health and well being it’s time to stop importing from China.

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.