Last week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal asked the Environmental Protection Agency and the Center For Disease Control and Prevention for help in investigating the effects of Chinese drywall. In the letter, Governor Jindal requested assistance from the EPA and the CDC in developing and implementing chemical testing protocols in homes in Louisiana that are experiencing severe copper corrosion associated with Chinese-made drywall. A copy of Governor Jindal’s full letter is below:
Dear Administrator Jackson and Acting Director Besser:
In late February of this year, the State of Louisiana became aware of an unusual problem with premature corrosion of copper and other metal parts in a less-than-two-year-old home in southeast Louisiana. Despite trying to replace corroded parts over and over, the homeowners literally watched the corrosion eat away at their property and, when they learned that it might have been associated with the presence of Chinese-made drywall in their home, became concerned that their own home might also be a potential health hazard.
To assess the scope and extent of any potential health hazard in Louisiana, we immediately began taking proactive steps, including expanding operation of the Indoor Air Quality Hotline of our state Department of Health and Hospitals’ Section on Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology, reaching out to the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and working with the Department of Health of the State of Florida, which has been experiencing the corrosion/drywall phenomenon since the middle of last year.
In the time since our first contact with this issue, our Indoor Air Quality Program has received more than 350 consumer/resident calls related to the corrosion/drywall issue. Health related complaints are sporadic and DHH is attempting to gather more health-related information. However, media reports on the amount of drywall imported from China suggest that as many as 7,000 Louisiana homes may be affected, based on the amount of drywall imported into the state and used in the rebuilding here after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Recently completed laboratory analysis of bulk samples of drywall used in homes in South Florida confirmed the presence of radioactive sulfur compounds and elemental sulfur in drywall from China, and confirmed that drywall from problem homes generated additional, secondary sulfur compounds when exposed to high relative humidity or heat. All of these compounds are capable of causing the type of corrosion identified in Louisiana complaint homes, and, at sufficient concentrations, could pose a health hazard. These initial findings suggest that indoor air samples to determine occupant exposure to the corrosive gases should be performed in Louisiana.
We in Louisiana are not in a position to do this testing alone, and even the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission-which recently initiated an investigation focused on the suspected drywall and secondary damage it may be causing to electrical wiring, safety equipment and natural gas connections-has said that it does not have the resources and testing expertise necessary to evaluate occupant exposure in problem homes.
Given that additional reports of corrosion and drywall from Virginia and North Carolina now show that this is an interstate issue connected to the importation of a foreign-made product, I am requesting assistance from the EPA and the CDC to develop and implement chemical testing protocols in homes in Louisiana and elsewhere that are experiencing severe copper corrosion associated with Chinese-made drywall. The Environmental Response Teams and Industrial Hygienists from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry are expertly capable of evaluating the health hazards possibly associated with gases emitted from Chinesemade drywall, and will enable a timely exposure assessment and discovery of any public health implications.
On behalf of the State of Louisiana, I ask for any assistance you may be able to provide in accessing federal resources to assess human health exposures and hazards in these homes, which I know will benefit Louisianans and other Americans alike adversely impacted by this unexpected and peculiar set of circumstances.
We sincerely appreciate your consideration, and look forward to working with you and your staff in the days and weeks to come.
Governor, State of Louisiana
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