CPSC American drywall investigation ends with a whimper

Florida has seen more than its share of Chinese drywall cases. By September 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had received 3,602 incident reports, and 57 percent of them were from Florida. The families behind those incident reports were helped enormously by the CPSC’s investigation into the issue and advocacy on behalf of homeowners injured by the defective product.

Last fall, the CPSC began its investigation into similar complaints about American-made drywall, and one family from the Fort Myers metro was anxious for the results. Now that the study is complete — the CPSC released its final report this week — the family is puzzled. The agency didn’t come to any conclusions, didn’t make any recommendations and firmly stated that, as far as the government was concerned, the investigation was complete.

This family had to move out of their home in 2009. They were having some serious health issues, and their electronic equipment began to fail — problems the Chinese drywall homeowners had encountered. They can’t sell the house, but they are still responsible for the mortgage. The CPSC investigation was supposed to give them a kind of government stamp of approval on their claim against the drywall company.

Instead, the CPSC told them the drywall in the house wasn’t producing sulfur gases. A look at the report told the family that the contractor conducting the tests recommended additional “chamber tests.” The home’s wiring was corroded, and further investigation was called for. In a chamber test, samples of the drywall would have been placed in a test chamber. Researchers would then measure for elevated levels of any of the dangerous gases — hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide and carbon disulfide.

The contractors recommended the tests, but the CPSC didn’t follow through. Why? The agency couldn’t afford it.

Continued in our next post.

Source: ProPublica, “CPSC Report on U.S.-Made Drywall Raises More Questions than Answers,” Joaquin Sapien, 04/ 21/11