|In 2008 it was discovered that certain brands of drywall imported from China were contaminated with sulfuric compounds that can possibly lead to health problems and cause corrosion in materials like copper air conditioning compressor coils, electrical wires, fire and carbon monoxide alarms, and brass fittings used in natural gas furnaces and other electrical appliances.
There are several brands of drywall which have been in use in the U.S. since 2004 that are considered to be harmful and a number of housing developments in Indian River County have reported problems. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been conducting tests on homes located in Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, and Alabama to better diagnose the health and corrosion issues encountered by homeowners with the affected drywall.
The Commission needs to speed-up its efforts in examining the health effects so homeowners are not left wondering what to do next. That is one of the reasons why I joined the Chinese Drywall Caucus.
The latest report by the CPSC was released in November 2009. You can get a copy of the report at http://www.cpsc.gov/info/drywall/nov2009status.pdf. The report confirms a scientific link between the problem drywall and corrosion. The inter-agency task force is establishing a team to determine a diagnosis protocol and a remediation protocol. You can read more on the CPSC’s Drywall Information Center’s website at www.cpsc.gov/info/drywall/index.html or www.DrywallResponse.gov. If you have not already registered with the US Consumer Protection and Safety Commission, I recommend you do so using the form found on their website at www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx. If you or your family member(s) believe you have health symptoms due to corrosion of electrical and metal components tied to drywall, you can report it to CPSC’s Hotline at 1-800-638-2772. The more citizens that come forward, the more data they will have available for their investigations.
I supported H.R. 3854 - Small Business Financing and Investment Act which passed the House on October 29, 2009. The bill had an amendment to allow lending to any homeowner if the primary residence has been adversely impacted by the installation of toxic drywall manufactured in China. A loan under this provision may be used only for the repair or replacement of toxic drywall. This amendment still has to go through the Senate, but this is a great first step toward some relief.
I cosponsored a resolution to encourage banks and mortgage service providers to work with families affected by contaminated drywall and to allow temporary forbearance without penalty on payments on their home mortgages which the House passed on December 2, 2009. The resolution is nonbinding but serves to raise awareness to the unfortunate situation that has affected some homeowners in recent years.
Other tips I have found include:
• The most important issue is your health and safety. If you are suffering from the health symptoms described as common to the reports of exposure to problem drywall, please consult your physician as soon as possible. If you experience any of the electrical or fire safety concerns described as common to the reports of exposure to problem drywall, please consult your local gas or electric supplier and a licensed electrician or building inspector.
• Be wary of companies trying to prey on worried homeowners by selling scam tests, products or quick fixes. The Florida Attorney General has issued a notice on some scams that have been reported in Florida, www.myfloridalegal.com.
• When contacting your insurance company, mortgage holder and homebuilder, document everything. Keeping a detailed log of all calls and copies of all correspondence will help build your case for either civil suits or foreclosure proceedings, should it come to that.
• You may wish to consult an attorney if you haven’t already. The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service provides referrals to attorneys who will conduct an initial one-half hour office consultation for $25.00 and can be reached at 1-800-342-8011. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may wish to contact Indian River Legal Aid at (772) 466-4766.
In addition to the steps I am taking in Congress to address the issue, my casework staff in my District Office are available to help you in the short-term with resources, etc. Please contact Pamela Gillespie at 321-632-1776 or toll free at 888-681-1776.
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