Other Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn't CPSC just recall the drywall?

CPSC cannot order a business to conduct a recall without a hearing. Any legal case on behalf of consumers would have to be supported by evidence demonstrating that the problem drywall was linked to health problems or electrical and fire safety issues in each home and thus presented a substantial product hazard warranting a recall. 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 such problems in the past.

 

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

No. Our studies have found that although corrosion was present on electrical wiring, there was no reduction in the ability of the wiring to carry its rated current. We did not observe any safety hazards related to electrical wiring and problem drywall during our studies.

 

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

 

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

No. Our studies detected the presence of surface corrosion, but 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. We did not observe any safety hazards related to gas piping and problem drywall during our studies.

 

How do I choose firms to test 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 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 breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infections, and asthma attacks. Because 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 are short-term symptoms related to something within the home.

 

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.  In its health consultation (pdf), CDC found that the additive or synergistic effects of these and other compounds 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 to any deaths.

 

How has the Chinese government responded?

CPSC had contacted the Chinese government repeatedly, directly and through various available channels, steadfastly requesting that Chinese companies do the right thing and stand behind their products. Neither the Chinese government, nor Chinese manufacturers, has been forthcoming about assistance with problem drywall.

 

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 to electrical and fire safety issues, CPSC is unable to take legal action. CPSC has worked with the gypsum industry through ASTM International, a voluntary standards-setting organization, to develop new standards for elemental sulfur in drywall and to implement tracking on drywall.  Going forward, CPSC will implement and enforce the Drywall Safety Act of 2012.

 

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.