A federally funded study has found "a strong association" between imported wallboard made in China and metal corrosion in homes in the U.S., the Consumer Product Safety Commission says. Two other preliminary studies, of electrical-component and fire safety-component corrosion also support that finding, CPSC says. But no definitive tie has been found yet between the wallboard and health problems that home owners have reported.

Sen. Bill Nelson
Photo: Office of Sen. Bill Nelson
Nelson contends agencies are taking too long to find tie between drywall and corrosion and health problems.

CPSC, which released the findings on Nov. 23, says that it has received 2,091 reports from 32 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico of possible health and corrosion problems that home owners say may be linked to Chinese drywall.

The study, by Environmental Health & Engineering Inc., Needham, Mass., included 41 residences whose owners had filed complaints with the CPSC about problems and 10 houses constructed at about the same time and located in the same areas. Samples were taken at those houses between July and September.

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said, "We now have the science that enables the [federal interagency] task force to move ahead to the next phase--to develop both a screening process and effective remediation methods. Ongoing studies will examine health and safety effects, but we are now ready to get to work fixing this problem."

A federal interagency identification and remediation protocol team composed of scientists and engineers will draw on the report and other data to design a screening protocol to identify other residences that have the same problem, CPSC said.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who has been pushing for action on the drywall issue, said, "I am very disappointed with the whole process, and especially that the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Environmental Protection Agency] can't say whether drywall is harmful to people's health. Common sense says otherwise but we still lack definitive answers."

The Sandia National Laboratories is studying corroded electrical components in homes with the drywall. The National Institute of Standards and Technology delivered a prelminary report of corrosion in fire-safety components. Sandia and NIST are looking at long-term corrosion effects. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories is investigating drywall samples to isolate chemical emissions, CPSC says.