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Drywall Act ‘Weakened by Construction Lobby’

Lobbying by the home building industry has watered down federal legislation aimed at regulating drywall, according to ProPublica.

Last week federal lawmakers hailed the passage of the Drywall Safety Act 2012 as a victory for homeowners threatened by contaminated drywall.

The measure was originally prompted by problems with drywall used to rebuild homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The drywall, which was mostly imported from China, emitted high amounts of sulfur gas, triggering respiratory problems in residents and harming electronic equipment.

But the act does not include any preventative standards, reports ProPublica. While the first version of the bill stipulated criminal and civil penalties for those who use or sell contaminated drywall, the final version simply asks an association committee mainly composed of drywall manufacturers and builders to develop voluntary sulfur limits.

Southwest Florida’s Herald-Tribune gave the legislation a muted welcome, calling the act “not fully satisfactory” in an editorial piece titled “Finally, a drywall safety law.” The piece said that the act reduced “the chance that future consumers will suffer the kind of nightmare that engulfed affected homeowners in Florida.” But the Herald-Tribune also said that the act lacked the teeth to hold guilty parties accountable.

In October, UL Environment released standard requirements for environmentally preferable gypsum wallboard and panels. The ULE ISR 100 standard evaluates products based on several factors including materials management, energy use, water use, manufacturing and operations, health and environment, product performance, product stewardship and innovative practices.

Picture credit: Garann

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