Florida attorney general warns of bogus repairs for toxic drywall

Consumer Reports News: April 28, 2009 04:17 PM

As homeowners in Florida, Louisiana and several other states grapple with the problem of tainted drywall from China, another scourge has been visited upon them—home repair scams. Desperate to discover what is turning their mirrors black, corroding air conditioner coils and causing respiratory problems, some affected homeowners have fallen prey to the promise of a quick fix, according to Florida's attorney general. 

At least two types of fraudulent activity involving the defective drywall have been reported to Attorney General Bill McCollum: bogus tests to determine the presence of the product and quick cure remedies that falsely claim to remove the corrosive properties of the drywall. McCollum said the presence of defective drywall cannot be determined by “testing” the air in the home. And if tainted drywall is discovered during a visual inspection, it cannot be remedied with a spray or an ozone generator. In fact, those products can make the problem worse.

Replacement is the only remedy. To help homeowners identify the drywall, photos of suspect drywall and the corrosive effect it has on appliances and electronics are featured on the Web site of the Florida Department of Health.

Senators Bill Nelson of Florida and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana—whose states are most affected—are working with constituents to help them identify and report tainted drywall. (As we reported earlier, they are co-sponsoring legislation asking that the drywall be recalled, among other safety measures.) Nelson has also called for the resignation of CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord saying that her agency isn't doing enough to help homeowners.

Although it has not announced a recall or ban, the CPSC is working with its Chinese regulatory counterpart, the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, to investigate the drywall. The most recent video conference call took place last week. The agency has also been monitoring Chinese drywall shipments, taking samples and tracking the building material as it comes into the country, according to the Palm Beach Post, as well as working with the U.S. Geological Survey to determine how the Chinese drywall becomes contaminated.

Last month we introduced you to Richard and Patti Kampf, a Cape Coral, Fla. couple living in a home with Chinese drywall. The couple is still at odds with their builder over replacement of the drywall, according to a recent report in the Fort Myers News-Press.

Update: Read the May 1 letter from Nancy Nord, acting chairman of the CPSC, to Senator Nelson regarding the actions her agency is taking.

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