We need answers now on Chinese drywall (Sen. David Vitter)

During yesterday’s Commerce Committee hearing on the nomination of Inez Tenenbaum to be Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, I raised some concerns over a Chinese drywall study. The CPSC initiated the study to determine the relationship between Chinese drywall and reported health symptoms and safety issues.

I have some concerns over this study’s timing. While I am aware that the investigation of these products is complicated, there are a considerable number of homeowners who are waiting for answers. Following Hurricane Katrina, in a period of construction material shortages, thousands of homes across Louisiana were fitted with this drywall that has been linked to such health issues as asthma attacks, sinus infections, coughs and headaches. Homeowners have also reported a variety of other electrical and fire safety concerns. This is not just affecting Louisiana; 19 states and DC have reported similar issues.

This study is on a multi-month timetable, and we just don’t know what the health bottom line is. The CPSC has made no estimate regarding a completion date and for those individuals who are living in an affected home, time is truly the big concern. Families who lost everything during the 2005 hurricanes are now finding out that they may be living in a home that’s full of a potentially dangerous product, and any remedy is contingent upon the completion of this study. For those families – and other families across the country ‑ that means being uprooted and facing more bureaucratic hurdles and expenditures.

The CPSC needs to get the bottom of this issue as soon as possible. These delays are not only taxing on families, they also represent potential health and safety risks. We need answers, not delays, on Chinese drywall and the sooner this study is completed, the sooner we can remedy this situation.

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