Federal officials were sympathetic, but ultimately unhelpful in protecting the victims of Chinese drywall. The defective product led countless homeowners, including thousands in Florida alone, to become ill. The drywall also caused metal products inside those homes to corrode, causing further headaches for homeowners. The homeowners who were hopeful that a review by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee would yield positive results are sure to be frustrated by this result.
Much of the drywall was used in construction that followed the 2005 hurricanes. After installation, homeowners began to notice an unpleasant smell. A range of illnesses followed, from nosebleeds to breathing problems. Some people reported that their pets had died as a result of the drywall. Later, those affected noticed that metal beams, pipes and other parts began corroding much earlier than would normally be anticipated. The effects left many families in ruins, with failing health and facing enormous home repair bills to remove the offending material.
Many of the families affected by the Chinese drywall reported their concerns to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their review identified a number of toxic chemicals that were being emitted by the drywall. Unfortunately, they did not find that those emissions came at high enough levels to require that all the offending products be recalled. Many manufacturers have decided to recall the drywall on their own, but several holdouts remain.
It is important to note that the review did not rule out the possibility that the drywall has caused significant harm to consumers. Those affected can still pursue civil litigation to obtain damages for the harm done to them. This simply indicated that the government could not prove that the drywall was the cause of the illnesses reported by thousands of affected families.
Source: Florida Today, “Drywall link to illness hard to prove,” by Ledyard King, 7 December 2011