Finance Globe

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FTC: Homeowners Be Skeptical of Chinese Drywall Test Kits

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning to consumers to be skeptical of anyone trying to sell test kits, inspections, or quick fixes for problems caused by imported drywall that has turned out to be contaminated.

Earlier this year, it was determined that some U.S. homes built between 2003 and 2008 contain imported drywall, referred to in the press as Chinese drywall. Consumers largely report that their homes were built in 2006 to 2007, when an unprecedented increase in new construction occurred in part due to the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005.

Owners of the homes built with contaminated drywall have reported a strong smell of sulfur - the smell of matches, fireworks, or rotten eggs.

Problematic issues with the structure include premature corrosion or deterioration of certain metal components in their homes, like air conditioner coils and wiring behind electrical outlets and inside electrical panel boxes. Copper wiring and pipes become blackened, and metal fixtures inside the home may become corroded and pitted.

Consumers who complain of the contaminated drywall have also reported a variety of health issues, such as irritated and itchy eyes and skin, asthma problems and difficulty breathing, a persistent cough, insomnia, and headaches. But not everyone who is exposed to the tainted drywall will experience the discomfort that some consumers report; those most likely to be sensitive to exposure are children, the elderly, and others with lung or heart problems, asthma, or allergies.

The lead federal agency investigating the tainted drywall is the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are also working to identify the causes of the damage and how to fix the problem, as well as other federal agencies, including the FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, and state law enforcement and health authorities are investigating the issue, as well.

Since early 2009, the CPSC has been contacted by thousands of residents from 34 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia about possible chemical emissions from imported drywall that was used when their home was built or remodeled. Most of the calls were from residents of Florida, Louisiana, and Virginia.

The Federal Interagency Task Force has performed significant testing of drywall and homes, and found a strong association between the problem drywall, the hydrogen sulfide levels in homes with that drywall, and corrosion in those homes. The Federal Interagency Task Force is studying testing and remediation protocols for affected homes, but no federally-approved testing kits or remediation methods currently exist.

If you suspect your home has been built with contaminated drywall, you can report it to the CPSC online at Report Drywall Incidents.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP.



Sources:
Federal Trade Commission
Centers for Disease Control
Environmental Protection Agency
Consumer Product Safety Commission
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Thursday, 14 November 2019

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