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Chinese Drywall

updated September 20, 2011

I. Overview of Chinese Drywall Cases.

Cases are being filed across the southeastern United States involving drywall manufactured in China. In very general terms the plaintiffs are claiming that the drywall contains excessively high amounts of materials such as sulfur, strontium, and iron which causes an odor and results in the corrosion of metal components. Some plaintiffs also are claiming personal injury due to the drywall. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (“CPSC”) and Environmental Protection Agency have released various statements and test results regarding Chinese drywall. Some of those can be found below:

II. Multi-District Litigation and the Chinese Drywall Cases.

Numerous Chinese drywall cases have been consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL) forum that is pending in the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana before Judge Eldon E. Fallon. Attached is a minute report from a September 2009 status hearing that was issued by Judge Fallon regarding those MDL cases. As set out in that report, the Court has announced plans to conduct a handful of “bellwether” Chinese drywall cases to be tried in January of 2010. The parties in the MDL case have submitted various labels of drywall per a court order and photographic images of those markings can be found at: http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/Drywall/DrywallMarkings.htm.

III. Issues Regarding the Defense of the Chinese Drywall Case.

Defendants in the Chinese drywall cases include manufacturers, distributors, exporters, retailers, suppliers, builders and installers. The cases are being aggressively defended by the defendants and numerous defenses are being made to counter the claims asserted by the plaintiffs.

IV. Reports/Findings

September 15, 2011 - CPSC and HUD Issue Updated Report and Remediation

On September 15, 2011 the CPSC and HUD issued an updated report (pdf, 56k) on Chinese Drywall and remediation (pdf, 45k) and its current finding is that the replacement of gas piping and some fire equipment is no longer necessary. The report called for replacement of: Possible Problem Drywall; Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Alarms; Electrical Distribution Components (including receptacles, switches, and circuit breakers, but not necessarily wiring); and, Fusible-Type Fire Sprinkler Heads.

March 18, 2011 - CPSC and HUD Issue Updated Remediation Protocol for Homes with Problem Drywall

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are issuing an updated remediation protocol (pdf, 38k) for homes with problem drywall. A study (pdf, 6.02MB) conducted on behalf of CPSC by Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, finds no evidence of a safety hazard to home electrical systems. Sandia simulated long-term exposure of wiring and other electrical components to hydrogen sulfide gas, which is associated with problem drywall.

Based on this study, CPSC and HUD staff, representing the Interagency Task Force on Problem Drywall, are no longer recommending the removal of all electrical wiring in homes with problem drywall. This change in the government's protocol may reduce the cost of remediation for many homes.

After simulating more than 40 years of corrosive conditions that could exist in problem drywall homes, Sandia staff did not observe any acute or long-term electrical safety events, such as smoking or fire. Corrosion and blackening of the exposed electrical components did occur and was observed to be consistent with the characteristic corrosion reported to CPSC by thousands of consumers. Based on this study, it is the belief of the staffs of CPSC, HUD and Sandia that long-term exposure of wiring and other electrical components to hydrogen sulfide gases does not indicate a safety hazard to a home's electrical systems.

With these changes, the remediation guidance for homes with problem drywall calls for the replacement of all:

  • problem drywall;
  • fire safety alarm devices, including smoke and carbon monoxide alarms;
  • electrical distribution components, including receptacles, switches and circuit breakers; and
  • gas service piping and fire suppression sprinkler systems.

CPSC and HUD staffs are also issuing an updated identification guidance (pdf, 41k), which broadens the range of installation years of affected homes to include homes where drywall was installed as late as 2009. Importantly, the drywall installed in 2009 had been previously imported during the years 2006-2007 and does not represent any new importation of problem drywall.

The staffs of CPSC and HUD believe that following the updated identification and remediation protocols (pdf, 20k) will enable homeowners to correctly identify homes containing problem drywall and comprehensively remediate those homes to address any potential health and safety issues associated with the problem drywall.

CPSC is in the final stages of completing its scientific investigation into problem drywall. For additional findings from the Interagency Drywall Task Force's investigation, visit www.DrywallResponse.gov

January 28, 2010 - CPSC Report