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1/28/2013 | Construction Blog

President Obama has signed the Drywall Safety Act of 2012, which was passed by the House and Senate last year. The legislation is designed to relieve some of the problems associated with tainted Chinese drywall that was, among other things, high in sulfur content. Another goal of the new law is to prevent the defective product from re-entering the U.S. market and causing further damage to property and the economy.

As signed into law, the bill urges the Secretary of Commerce to insist that the Chinese government make manufacturers in China pay for the problems associated with toxic Chinese drywall and asks those Chinese companies to submit to U.S. jurisdiction in American federal courts for purposes of cases involving problematic drywall. These provisions are likely not enforceable though; and it is doubtful that the Chinese government or Chinese companies will willingly agree to these requests either.

In a more concrete step, the new law requires all drywall sheets to be labeled with a date and name of manufacturer in accordance of ASTM C1264.11 and requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to develop a limit on sulfur in the content of the drywall or adopt a voluntary standard agreed to by everyone involved in the industry. These steps are designed to more closely monitor and manage the drywall products being sold on the U.S. market. This is particularly important in the housing industry, where toxic drywall has caused illnesses in thousands and resulted in a number of lawsuits against drywall manufacturers, distributors, and installers.

While it is not likely this legislation will have a huge impact on the industry, it is clear the problem is serious enough to address. Congress may revisit the issue in the near future and state governments may take action as a matter of state law.