CPSC has received about 608 reports from residents in 21 states and the District of Columbia who believe their health symptoms or the corrosion of certain metal components in their homes are related to the presence of drywall produced in China.
State and local authorities have also received similar reports.
Consumers largely report that their homes were built in 2006 to 2007, when an unprecedented increase in new construction occurred in part due to the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005.
Sneaking in as soon as the walls went up during the construction process, this intruder has been concealed by insulation and reported by air conditioning breakdowns and faulty electrical outlets.
Corroded wiring and a distinct sulfur smell in the air are visible and common side effects.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: How can you tell if your new home has problem drywall?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends homeowners worried about Chinese drywall check for a persistent rotten egg odor; respiratory or other symptoms alleviated by leaving a building and worsened on return; blackened and corroded metal, including copper, nickel, silver and/or stainless steel; premature failures of central air-conditioning evaporator coils; blinking lights or power failures, arcing or sparking, intermittent operation or failure of appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers and electronic devices such as televisions, computers and video-game systems.
Q: What are the health symptoms and risks?
The most frequently reported symptoms are irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty in breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infections and asthma attacks. Since many consumers report that their symptoms lessen or go away when they are away from their home, but return upon re-entry, it appears that these symptoms are short-term and related to something within the home.
Q: Are there potential electrical or fire hazards?
Consumers should generally watch for circuit breakers that need resetting frequently without any apparent cause; lights that dim often without any specific causes; bright flashes or showers of sparks anywhere in the electrical system; unusual sounds from electrical system devices; overheating of switch plates, dimmer switches, receptacle outlet covers, cords and plugs; strong fumes from overheating plastic or electrical insulation materials; and any electrical shocks. Multiple symptoms would be a stronger indication of problems.
Q: What should you do if you think your new house has toxic drywall?
CPSC recommends four steps. First, consult your physician as soon as possible if you are suffering from the health symptoms described as common to the reports of exposure to problem drywall. Second, contact your state and local authorities to report your concerns and receive direction on help or resources. Third, report your concerns to the CPSC at its Web site. Fourth, consider contacting your insurance company and homebuilder to report your concerns.
Multiple symptoms would be a stronger indication of problems.
Read the July 2009 status report on the CPSC’s investigation of imported chinese drywall.