Feds: Homes with tainted drywall should be gutted

Consumer Reports News: April 02, 2010 04:06 PM

Homes with tainted Chinese drywall should be stripped down to the studs, according to today's recommendation from two federal agencies. The corroded electrical wiring, outlets, circuit breakers, fire alarm systems, carbon monoxide alarms, fire sprinklers, gas pipes and other systems should also be removed, said the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Department of Housing and Urban Development in a joint statement.

"We want families to tear it all out and rebuild the interior of their homes, and they need to start this to get their lives started all over again," said Inez Tenenbaum, chairwoman of the CPSC.

Left unresolved was how the extensive work would be paid for. But the declaration opens the door to funding options. “Our investigations now show a clear path forward,” said Tenenbaum. “We have shared with affected families that hydrogen sulfide is causing the corrosion. Based on the scientific work to date, removing the problem drywall is the best solution currently available to homeowners. Our scientific investigation now provides a strong foundation for Congress as they consider their policy options and explore relief for affected homeowners.”

In other words, Congress, the ball is now in your court.

According to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the agencies moved up their announcement after being criticized for "plodding" scientific investigations. Homeowners in Louisiana and several other Gulf states have been most affected by the tainted drywall, much of which was installed after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"The CPSC repair protocols are a victory for homeowners who want to make sure that home repairs are extensive enough that properties retain their values and could be re-sold," the newspaper reported. "But they compound the potential financial losses for those who end up paying the bills, such as Louisiana's many small builders, who fear that the situation could bankrupt them."

Information on the remediation as well as the results of ongoing scientific studies is featured in the CPSC's Drywall Information Center. The CPSC site also features photos and other information to help homeowners identify tainted drywall. The Times-Picayune has also written extensively about the drywall problem including coverage of ongoing lawsuits and insurance issues.

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