The Portland Business Journal recently stated that Chinese drywall has been reported in Oregon. In addition, late last week the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) issued a status report on its investigation into the imported drywall. This report states that 5,503,694 sheets of Chinese drywall were imported into the United States during 2006, so it is no surprise that Chinese drywall was used by contractors in Oregon.
Because the CPSC investigation is ongoing, we do not know whether the imported drywall will be recalled. While waiting for the CPSC to complete this report, if you suspect that a building that you occupy was built with defective drywall, you should:
- Investigate whether your building contains drywall from China. Chinese drywall may have “MADE IN CHINA” printed on its back side (the side facing the studs). In addition, the inner core of Chinese drywall may appear gray in color in comparison to the white inner core of domestically manufactured drywall.
- Look for corroded metal components throughout the building. Examples include door hardware, fixtures, pipes, wires and other exposed metal throughout the building. Corroded copper piping and copper wires may appear blackened from exposure to sulfur in the drywall.
If you believe that your building contains defective drywall, generally you should:
- Determine whether the drywall may be affecting your health. The CPSC has reported that the most commonly reported symptoms include irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty in breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infection, and asthma attacks. Symptoms that may be related to something in a building may present themselves when you are inside but go away after you leave. If you are suffering from any of these or other symptoms, consult a physician immediately.
- Inspect the metal components in your building. In Oregon, a certified home inspector may be able to help you conduct an investigation. Of critical importance are components related your building’s electrical and gas systems. Because these systems have the potential to be hazardous to your health or property, they should be routinely inspected and repaired to decrease any risk of failure. Alert your local gas supplier if you believe your gas system has been affected. Likewise, consult a licensed electrical contractor for any issues related to your electrical system. Any inspections or repairs should be thoroughly documented to increase your ability to recover repair costs from those responsible.
- Submit a Consumer Product Incident Report to the CPSC, either through the CPSC website or by calling the CPSC toll-free at 1-800-638-2772.
- Contact your state and local authorities to report your concerns and get direction on any help or resources in your area.
- Contact your insurance company and contractor to report your concerns.
- Consult with an attorney regarding your legal rights and remedies.
Although we do not yet know whether the CPSC will require a recall of imported drywall, if it does, the repair costs and inconvenience to building owners and occupants will be significant. By taking appropriate steps, building owners may avoid potential hazards and place themselves in a position to recover repair costs should they be necessary.