This week, we bring you a story about something that can be found in almost every home: drywall. It’s also called sheetrock, or plasterboard, and no matter where you are, it’s probably part of your wall, or your ceiling, or both. What you may not know is that some drywall — usually manufactured in China — could be making some people sick.
Here’s the background: Between 2004 and 2007, the United States had a drywall shortage. That was mostly because we were in the middle of a building boom, and also because a series of hurricanes — especially Katrina — had wreaked havoc in the South. Chinese manufacturers were quick to capitalize on the shortage, exporting millions of sheets of drywall to the U.S., enough to build approximately 61,000 average-sized houses. Some of it has been blamed for health problems.
As part of our series, The Watch List, we bring you a report we orginally aired last spring, in cooperation with the independent investigative journalism group ProPublica, along with investigative reporter Aaron Kessler.A quick postscript: In June, Propublica reported that insurers representing Florida-based drywall supplier, Banner Supply Company, agreed to pay some $55 million to settle some of the claims filed by people whose homes were built with Chinese drywall provided by the company. The settlement, reached in US District Court in New Orleans, does not impact Colleen Stephens. Banner, in turn, has filed a suit alleging fraud by the maker of the drywall, Knauf plasterboard Tianjin, as well as related companies.
Statement from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (Aug. 4, 2011)