The federal government's Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released today updated guidance for fixing homes with tainted drywall that damaged new homes' electrical equipment, corroded pipes, created foul smells, and led to residents' health problems.

Remediating the problem requires that homeowners replace all problem drywall; smoke and carbon monoxide alarms; electrical receptacles, switches and circuit breakers; and fusible-type fire sprinkler heads, the agencies said in a news release. They have stopped recommending the replacement of gas service piping or glass bulb fire sprinkler heads, though they continue to recommend replacement of all fusible-type fire sprinkler heads. Those changes could reduce the overall remediation cost, they said. All the recommendations are based on studies just completed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

CPSC said today it believes there may be as many as 6,300 homes nationwide with problem drywall; it said it has received 3,905 reports. A large number of those homes used much of the 7 million sheets of drywall that was imported from China between 2000 and 2009. Today's CPSC/HUD statement notes that tests conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory "found considerably higher hydrogen sulfide emission rates from some, but not all, Chinese drywall samples compared to North American samples."

While CPSC said it received reports from 42 states and the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico, homes in hot, humid states such as Florida and Louisiana appear to have been most damaged by the tainted drywall. Today's announcement said the lab tests found that increases in temperature and humidity "corresponded with increased emission rates of the most reactive sulfur gases."

According to a list compiled by ProPublica and the Sarasota Herald Tribune and published Dec. 15, at least 95 companies have been implicated as distributors in lawsuits filed against Chinese manufacturers accused of being the source of tainted drywall. Banner Supply tops the list, while others on it include such ProSales 100 companies as L&W Supply, ProBuild, Stock Building Supply, and 84 Lumber. In June, Banner Supply Co. of Miami agreed to pay Florida homeowners $54.5 million to repair homes damaged because of tainted drywall that it had sold to builders. (Story)