Background - There are approximately 6 brands of Chinese drywall that are known or believed to be harmful that have been used in the U.S. since 2004. Problems with these brands of drywall were only discovered in 2008. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been gathering evidence and conducting the necessary tests to address the scientific relationships between the problem drywall and the health and safety concerns raised by consumers. In District 15, a number of housing developments in Indian River County have been identified as containing Chinese drywall. (If you live in Brevard, Osceola or Polk County please contact my office as we have not heard from residents in these counties who are facing this problem.)
The problems experienced in homes with the bad drywall include sulfuric odors and corrosion of certain materials. The corrosion seems to affect copper air conditioning compressor coils, electrical wires, fire and carbon monoxide alarms, and brass fittings used in natural gas furnaces and other electrical appliances.
Results from tests being conducted by CPSC are expected to be completed by mid-October. Consumers are asked to register with the CPSC at www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx or by calling 1-800-638-2772. As more citizens come forward and report problems, the CPSC and other federal agencies will have a more thorough understanding of the extent of the problem and they will be better able to develop assessment and mitigation measures.
Legislative Action - I have cosponsored H.R. 1977, the Drywall Safety Act of 2009, which further researches bad drywall and extends an interim ban on importation of drywall exceeding 5% organic compounds. I have also joined the bipartisan Chinese Drywall Caucus. This is a group of Members of Congress committed to getting to the bottom of this issue and seeing that ways of mitigating the problem are developed in a timely manner. My staff and I have personally met with a number of families and individuals dealing with this issue first hand and are working with the Chinese Drywall Caucus to piece together an accurate description of the problems these families are facing. I have also been briefed by Florida state experts who are working directly with the issues. The bipartisan caucus I am a part of is working to get answers to unanswered questions a better understanding of the scope and nature of the problems, and effective mitigation solutions to the problems as quickly as possible.
CPSC Investigation of Imported Drywall - status update, August 2009 - The CPSC is hiring temporary support personnel to analyze the information received from consumers, etc. to investigate and research affected properties and the chain of commerce. As a start CPSC engineering staff has visited 50 homes in Florida, Louisiana, and Virginia to collect examples of electrical, plumbing, and safety systems for further testing.
You can read more on the CPSC’s Drywall Information Center at www.cpsc.gov/info/drywall/index.html and you can get a copy of their latest status report at www.cpsc.gov/info/drywall/drywallstatus08112009.pdf. If you have not already registered with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, I recommend you do so using the form found on their website at www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx or by calling them at 1-800-638-2772. The more citizens that come forward, the more data they will have available for their investigations.
Other tips I have found include:
1. 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.
2. 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
3. When contacting your insurance company, mortgage holder and homebuilder, document everything. Keeping a detailed log of all calls and copies of all correspondence is important as you seek to resolve claims associated with drywall problems.
4. You may wish to consult an attorney if you haven’t already done so. 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.
DIFFERENT FOR EACH FAMILY: Please consider taking some time to write and share your personal situation with my staff and me. It is helpful to use real-life stories to piece together as accurate a picture as we can of the many problems families are facing so we can formulate how best to move forward in addressing them. Please let me know what thoughts you have on some remedies that might be of use to your family in the short term and other details or information you think might be useful for us to know. Please include a filled out privacy act form (then link to the privacy act like on the other casework pages)
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. I have listed below some local and state programs for those living in Indian River County that may be of use to you. (Again, if you live in Brevard, Osceola, or Polk County please give my office a call directly.)
Indian River County Housing Authority: 772-770-5013
Indian River County Human Services: 772-226-1422
2655 5th Street SW
Vero Beach, FL 32962
Public Service Commission: For intervention with Vero Beach Electric Company - you must first contact VBEC - if they can’t work with you then you may call PSC. Call 1-800-342-3552
Food Assistance: Treasure Coast Food Bank, supports a network of emergency food assistance programs in Indian River County. If you are need of assistance, contact the Treasure Coast Food Bank Agency Relations Department between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. You will be directed to the nearest emergency food provider in your area.
www.myflorida.com/accessflorida/ also has information about a number of other social services that are available.
Again, I am sorry that you and your family must suffer through this. My staff and I are committed to addressing your concerns and will keep you updated on progress in addressing this problem. In the meantime, please keep me apprised of any new developments. If you need further assistance, please contact my District Office Manager, Mrs. Pamela Gillespie at 772-778-3534.