WASHINGTON - The federal government is recommending that homeowners with corroded Chinese drywall remove all of the material from their homes to eliminate safety problems.
Guidelines issued Friday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend that consumers remove contaminated drywall, as well as replace electrical components and wiring, gas service piping, fire suppression sprinkler systems, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
"Based on the scientific work to date, removing the problem drywall is the best solution currently available to homeowners,'' said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum, who said that hydrogen sulfide is causing the corrosion.
She said the interim recommendations are being released before all ongoing scientific studies on problem drywall are completed îîso that homeowners can begin remediating their homes.''
But Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who first called for an investigation into the cases of toxic drywall and traveled to China to press the government to help consumers, said there's no answer as to who pays for the removal -- and replacement of the faulty drywall.
"The studies find that the drywall is bad enough to require the stuff to be removed from houses,'' Nelson said, "Now the question is: who pays for it? The way I see it, homeowners didn't cause this. The manufacturers in China did. That's why we've got to go after the Chinese government now.''
Nelson's office says there are now more than 3,000 reported cases of toxic drywall in the U.S., nearly 1,800 of them in Florida.
The consumer protection agency said it studies have shown a connection between certain Chinese drywall and corrosion in homes. The agency is continuing to look at the long term health and safety implications.
The agency said preliminary data from a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that measured chemical emissions from samples of drywall found that the top 10 sulfur-emitting drywall samples were all produced in China.
And the report says that certain Chinese samples had emission rates of hydrogen sulfide 100 times greater than non-Chinese drywall samples.
The report shows that some Chinese drywall samples were similar to non-Chinese samples and that several Chinese samples manufactured in 2009 demonstrate a îîmarked decrease in sulfur emissions'' as compared to drywall manufactured in 2005 and 2006.