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Federal Government (HUD and CPSC) Issue Guidance on Identifying Problem Drywall in Homes

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today issued guidance on how to identify the presence of metal corrosion, as well as other indicators of problem drywall in homes. The guidance takes into account visual signs of metal corrosion, evidence of drywall installation in the relevant time period, and the identification of other corroborating evidence or characteristics.

HUD and CPSC’s two-step guidance requires a visual inspection that must show blackening of copper electrical wiring and/or air conditioning evaporator coils; and the installation of new drywall (for new construction or renovations) between 2001 and 2008. To view,  Chinese Drywall Identification Guidance visit HUD’s website or CPSC’s website (both documents PDF).

The guidance also describes obtaining additional corroborating evidence of problem drywall, since it is possible that corrosion of metal in homes can occur for other reasons. For example, homes with new drywall installed between 2005 and 2008 (and the significant increase in imported problem drywall due in part to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita) must meet at least two additional criteria related to: the chemical analysis of metal corrosion in the home; elemental markers in the drywall; markings on the drywall; or specific chemical emissions from the drywall. Homes with new drywall installed between 2001 and 2004 must meet a total of at least four of those criteria. Collecting evidence of these corroborating conditions may require professional assistance and analysis.

“Families have the right to know if their homes contain problem drywall so they can begin the process of doing needed repairs,” said Jon Gant, Director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. “This guidance offers homeowners, contractors and state and local authorities a course of action for knowing if they’re dealing with problem drywall or not.”

Home owners and inspectors must be able to see a blackening of copper electrical wiring or air conditioning evaporator coils, and must have had new drywall installed between 2001 and 2008, according to the guidance. There are also a number of criteria homes must meet to ascertain that the problems are caused by the drywall and not the result of some other problem. The criteria are different based on the age of the home.

A number of homeowners throughout the United States have filed contaminated Chinese drywall lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors. In June, all of the federal drywall litigation was consolidated and centralized in an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation. The cases were assigned to U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in New Orleans, who has put the cases on a “fast track,” with trials involving property damage claims set to begin in early 2010.


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