The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), recently set up a Web site to keep consumers, drywall manufacturers, builders and other apprised of its investigation into the latest problematic Chinese import, drywall used to build homes.

Drywall imported from China, blamed for rotten egg odors, fast metal corrosion and health problems for some homeowners, contains sulfur and other materials not found in U.S. made drywall, according to preliminary federal tests.

CPSC's Drywall Information Center offers updates (online and via email) on the investigation, help for homeowners trying to determine if their drywall is making them sick, where drywall problems have been reported and other related information.

Preliminary research from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found the Chinese-made drywall contained sulfur, which is not in U.S. drywall, but widely used in black gunpowder, matches, insecticides and fungicides.

EPA tests also found strontium, (a metallic element that is highly reactive chemically, including, in a finely powdered state, spontaneous ignition at room temperature) at levels 10 times as high as in U.S. drywall.

The EPA also found two other organic compounds, generally found in acrylic paint, but not in U.S.-made wallboard. They were • propanoic acid, 2-methyl-, 2,2-dimethyl-1-(2-hydroxy-1-methylethyl) propyl ester • propanoic acid, 2-methyl-, 3-hydroxy-2,4,4-trimethylpentyl ester.

Since those findings, the CPSC has worked with their Chinese counterpart, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and hope to visit Chinese gypsum ore mining and wall board manufacturing facilities. CPSC also hosted Chinese officials visiting homes in Florida and Louisiana.

Some 36,000 homes in Florida, as well as additional properties in post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana and Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi and California, were constructed with the Chinese-made material, recently found to be quite different from U.S.-made drywall.

CPSC is also investigating complaints, tracking imports, analyzing health effects, air sampling 50 homes, collecting samples and otherwise pursing the investigation. The questionable residential building material has been installed in some 100,000 homes nationwide according to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), whose high number of complaining constituents put him at spearhead of an effort to learn more about the suspect drywall.

The case has drawn class action and builder-originated suits against suppliers and manufacturers.

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