Other Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn't CPSC just recall the drywall?

CPSC cannot order a business to conduct a recall without a trial. Any legal case on behalf of consumers would have to be driven by scientific proof that found a substantial product hazard linking the problem drywall in each home with health problems or electrical and fire safety issues. Current evidence does not support such a finding.

 

Why didn't CPSC catch this problem drywall before it was installed in homes?

CPSC does not have the legal authority to perform pre-market testing and approval of products. In addition, this is a unique situation given that drywall has not presented problems such as these in the past.

 

Does problem drywall cause a safety hazard for electrical wiring in homes?

No. Our studies found that while corrosion was present on electrical wiring, there was no reduction in the ability of the wiring to carry its rated current. No safety hazards related to electrical wiring and problem drywall were observed during the course of our studies.

 

However, CPSC staff continue to recommend the removal and replacement of electrical distribution components, including receptacles, switches, and circuit breakers.

 

Does problem drywall cause a safety hazard for gas pipes in homes?

No. Our studies found that while surface corrosion was present, no significant change in the thickness of piping occurred and there was no reduction in the ability of the gas piping to perform as intended. No safety hazards related to gas piping and problem drywall were observed during the course of our studies.

 

How do I choose firms to test for and remediate the problem drywall in my home?

The Federal Interagency Task Force has released guidance (pdf) to help consumers identify the presence of problem drywall in a home and to take action to remediate it (pdf).

 

Please be cautious of persons or businesses advertising both testing and remediation services - there may be unqualified or dishonest individuals seeking to take advantage of consumers struggling to address this issue.

 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned consumers to be alert for unscrupulous salespersons offering quick fixes or "federally-approved testing kits." There are no federally-approved testing kits.

 

You should consult your State and local authorities if you have any questions or concerns about contractors or testing companies promising solutions to these drywall matters.

 

Did CPSC testing show a microbiological cause to the sulfur gas emissions in problem drywall?

No. Studies conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and by Environmental Health & Engineering found no evidence of microbiological activity or a microbiological source of sulfur-gas emissions from gypsum rock or problem drywall, including from samples taken from affected homes.

 

What health symptoms have been associated with problem drywall?

The most frequently reported symptoms are irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty in breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infection, and asthma attacks. Since many consumers report that their symptoms lessen or go away when they are away from their home, but return upon re-entry, it appears that these symptoms are short-term and related to something within the home.

 

The staffs of the CPSC and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC )agree that the levels of sulfur gases detected in the affected homes in the 51-home study (pdf) were at concentrations below the known irritant levels in the available scientific literature; however, it is possible that the additive or synergistic effects of these and other compounds in the subject homes could potentially cause irritant effects to consumers.

 

Have any deaths been caused by problem drywall?

No. A review provided to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) by the CDC found that there is no evidence linking exposure to problem drywall and 11 reported deaths.

 

What has been the response of the Chinese government?

CPSC has been in frequent contact with the Chinese government, directly and through all available channels, steadfastly requesting that Chinese companies do the right thing and stand behind their products. No assistance from the Chinese government or Chinese manufacturers of problem drywall has been forthcoming.

 

Is CPSC's scientific investigation of problem drywall complete?

Yes. CPSC is confident that its extensive research and testing have been successful in defining the scope of the problem drywall issue, in producing identification and remediation protocols, and in providing homeowners with all the assistance possible within the agency's jurisdiction and appropriated funds authority.

 

As noted above, absent scientific proof linking the drywall and health problems or electrical and fire safety issues, CPSC is unable to take legal action. Should additional information become available linking the problem drywall with a potential substantial product hazard associated with health or life safety issues, CPSC would reexamine the information and take appropriate action at that time.

 

CPSC is working with the gypsum industry through ASTM International, a voluntary standards-setting organization, to develop and implement new standards and tracking labels to ensure that this situation will not happen again in the drywall industry.

 

This document was prepared by CPSC staff, and has not been reviewed or approved by, and may not necessarily reflect the views of, the Commission.