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Bill to aid homeowners affected by defective drywall

By Staff | Apr 1, 2009

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced legislation earlier this week that would institute testing of drywall imported from China between 2004 and 2007 and used in U.S. homes.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., helped Nelson craft the legislation, which also calls for a temporary ban of certain types of drywall.
Under the bill, the Consumer Product Safety Commission would test at least 10 drywall samples, with at least one sample from Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia.
The testing is to be completed within four months of the bill’s passing, with the commission submitting a report detailing the chemical and organic makeup of the samples, the effect of the chemicals on metal objects and wiring in homes, and the health and environmental effect of the drywall.
More than 100 health-related complaints linked to suspected drywall have been received in Florida.
Earlier this month, four families in the Coral Lakes neighborhood in north Cape Coral filed a lawsuit against the developer, Engle Homes, alleging the drywall used in its homes caused health problems including headaches, nosebleeds and insomnia, and tarnished the copper wiring of air conditioning units and other appliances.
David Durkee, an attorney representing the Coral Lakes families, applauded the legislative efforts, but said it may come too late to help people already suffering from the effects of defective drywall.
“Legislation like this, it’s far better at preventing situations like this from happening in the future than cleaning up the mess that’s already occurred,” Durkee said.
The Nelson-Landrieu legislation calls for a ban of drywall with more than 5 percent organic compounds, to last at least until the commission’s report is released.
The bill also calls for the commission to institute a recall of problem drywall that would help place the financial burden of repairing or replacing the drywall on the manufacturers.
“We also need to help our struggling homeowners with the repair costs that will be necessary to rid their homes of this toxic product,” Nelson said in a prepared statement.
According to a statement released by Nelson’s office, between 60,000 and 100,000 homes nationwide are believed to contain drywall imported from China, with 36,000 homes in Florida affected.
The company most heavily linked to the suspected drywall is Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, a German-based company that manufactures the drywall in China.
However, not all drywall imported from China is believed to be problematic.