CPSC and HUD Issue Updated Remediation Protocol for Homes with Problem Drywall

Based on this study, CPSC and HUD staff, representing the Interagency Task Force on Problem Drywall, are no longer recommending the removal of all electrical wiring in homes with problem drywall.
March 18, 2011
Release Number: 11-176

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are issuing an updated remediation protocol (pdf) for homes with problem drywall. A study (pdf) conducted on behalf of CPSC by Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, finds no evidence of a safety hazard to home electrical systems. Sandia simulated long-term exposure of wiring and other electrical components to hydrogen sulfide gas, which is associated with problem drywall.

Based on this study, CPSC and HUD staff, representing the Interagency Task Force on Problem Drywall, are no longer recommending the removal of all electrical wiring in homes with problem drywall. This change in the government's protocol may reduce the cost of remediation for many homes.

After simulating more than 40 years of corrosive conditions that could exist in problem drywall homes, Sandia staff did not observe any acute or long-term electrical safety events, such as smoking or fire. Corrosion and blackening of the exposed electrical components did occur and was observed to be consistent with the characteristic corrosion reported to CPSC by thousands of consumers. Based on this study, it is the belief of the staffs of CPSC, HUD and Sandia that long-term exposure of wiring and other electrical components to hydrogen sulfide gases does not indicate a safety hazard to a home's electrical systems.

With these changes, the remediation guidance for homes with problem drywall calls for the replacement of all:

- problem drywall;

- fire safety alarm devices, including smoke and carbon monoxide alarms;

- electrical distribution components, including receptacles, switches and circuit breakers; and

- gas service piping and fire suppression sprinkler systems.

CPSC and HUD staffs are also issuing an updated identification guidance (pdf), which broadens the range of installation years of affected homes to include homes where drywall was installed as late as 2009. Importantly, the drywall installed in 2009 had been previously imported during the years 2006-2007 and does not represent any new importation of problem drywall.

The staffs of CPSC and HUD believe that following the updated identification and remediation protocols (pdf) will enable homeowners to correctly identify homes containing problem drywall and comprehensively remediate those homes to address any potential health and safety issues associated with the problem drywall.

CPSC is in the final stages of completing its scientific investigation into problem drywall. For additional findings from the Interagency Drywall Task Force's investigation, visit www.DrywallResponse.gov