11 deaths not due to defective drywall says CPSC
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11 deaths not due to defective drywall says CPSC

Wednesday, February 02, 2011By Richard Alexander
A review provided to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health found no evidence linking exposure to problem drywall and 11 reported deaths. The CDC review confirms the results of previous reviews conducted by CPSC into these deaths, which also found no link to problem drywall.

In December 2008, the agency began receiving complaints from homeowners in Florida whose homes were constructed using imported drywall. The residents complained that they experienced respiratory health symptoms that they believed were related to emissions from the imported drywall. In response, the CPSC sent a team to Florida in March 2009 to meet with county health officials and visit impacted homes.

Since then, the CPSC and other government agencies have conducted investigations into possible exposures to harmful contaminants associated with imported drywall.

The studies found reactive sulfur compounds, including hydrogen sulfide; however, none of the sulfur compounds found in indoor air were at concentrations historically associated with human health effects, and the concentrations found could not explain the adverse health symptoms reported to the CPSC.

The largest study of indoor air, conducted for the CPSC by a consulting firm, Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc, sampled for contaminants in the air of homes where residents had complained of imported drywall (41homes). The study also sampled ten homes from which there had been no complaints.

Although a statistically significant association between the presence of imported drywall in a home and hydrogen sulfide concentrations was found, the mean level of hydrogen sulfide for these homes was measured at less than one part per billion (0.66 ppb). Such a low mean level is close to levels detected in background/ambient air and below levels at which most people can detect an odor. The results of these environmental studies and evaluations can be found at www.cpsc/info/drywall/investigation.

Among the adverse health impacts reported to the CPSC, several families reported concerns that the deaths of their family members might have been related to exposure to imported drywall. The CPSC subsequently requested assistance from CDC in the investigation of those reports involving deaths. The CPSC asked CDC to provide public health expertise and guidance in order to further the investigation of the reports of deaths and to provide a better understanding of the relationship, if any, between the reported deaths and exposure to imported drywall. This request was consistent with CDC’s ongoing supportive role of CPSC’s investigations of the potential

health impacts related to exposure to imported drywall.

The CDC review (pdf), which was requested by CPSC, summarizes investigations by state public health authorities of the available medical records of 11 people who died and had previously lived in or visited homes reported to contain problem drywall. State public health authorities concluded that problem drywall was not a factor in the deaths. The CDC review was limited to the 11 deceased individuals.

CPSC is in the final stages of completing its scientific investigation into problem drywall. As part of this process, CPSC has requested that the CDC consider undertaking a comprehensive study of any possible long-term health effects.

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