Federal investigators reported on Monday that a “strong association” exists between chemicals in Chinese drywall installed in thousands of homes during the housing boom and electrical problems in those homes. In addition, investigators said that the drywall was a possible cause of respiratory problems reported by homeowners, brought on by hydrogen sulfide gas emitted from the imported drywall in combination with formaldehyde, which is common in new homes. The finding, released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, is the second in a series of progress reports on a widespread investigation into complaints by homeowners that their newly built homes were giving off a rotten egg odor and causing respiratory problems, and that appliances and electrical systems were failing quickly. More than 2,100 homeowners, mainly in Florida, Louisiana and Virginia, have complained to the government of problems with their homes.
Those three states experienced a home construction boom after devastating hurricanes. With domestic sources of drywall running low a few years ago, many home builders turned to imported drywall from China, which investigators now say is linked to many of the homeowners’ problems. The report found that Southern homeowners were particularly vulnerable. The problems were brought on by a higher-than-normal level of hydrogen sulfide, worsened by high humidity, high temperatures and poor air circulation in highly air-conditioned homes.