Drywall Concerns Update

Thursday - 4/2/2009, 9:31am EDT

WFED's Tom Temin

As heard on sister-station WTOP

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By Tom Temin
FederalNewsRadio

WTOP was the first to report that sulfur-laced drywall manufactured in China was making its way into U.S. homes, including some in Virginia and Maryland. There's news now that the government is taking more action to deal with this problem.

Q: So, what is the government doing?

A: Earlier we reported that the Federal Trade Commission was looking into the matter, and that the Consumer Products Safety Commission was accepting complaints from people who suspected their homes had stinky walls.

But now, there's action in Congress. Florida Senators Mary Landrieu and Bill Nelson have introduced a bill that would recall the tainted product, and ban further shipments of it from China. The bill includes a resolution call on the CPSC to initiate the recall. It would also direct CPSC to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to help determine the level of hazardous sulfide fumes in affected homes.

Q: Is it s health hazard, or just an annoyance?

A: In sufficient concentration, it can be a big health hazard. The sulfide gas emitted by the drywall is corrosive. Not only can it harm lungs, it can eat into plumbing pipes and other metal items in a home -- like electrical wiring.

Q: How widespread is the problem?

A: Homes in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, California and Virginia are known to have problems. We also got a call from a Maryland homeowner whose new home walls emitted the sulfur odor. The CPSC has received 67,000 complains, but authorities believe more than 100,000 new homes are affected.

For more information, see CNN's Florida: Drywall has material that can emit corrosive gas.

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