Mississippi Senators Seek Crackdown on Drywall Scams

Cochran & Wicker Seek Federal Action to Protect Consumers from Dubious Drywall Fixes

November 16, 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker today joined in asking the federal government to help protect Mississippi consumers from companies and individuals offering questionable solutions for contaminated drywall imported from China.

In a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Jon Leibowitz, the Mississippi Senators joined in formally asking the FTC to investigate companies and individuals offering drywall solutions even as federal agencies continue to study the causes of the tainted drywall problem, as well as recommended testing and remediation protocols.

“We believe that the Federal Trade Commission has an important role to play in preventing companies from taking advantage of homeowners who are desperate for solutions to this problem,” said the letter signed by Cochran and Wicker and other Senators.

In the last 20 months, 1,900 cases—many from the Gulf Coast—have been reported regarding serious metal corrosion, noxious fumes and health concerns preliminarily linked to defective Chinese drywall.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are currently conducting comprehensive tests to identify problem substances in the drywall.  Test results are expected to be announced later this month.

“Homeowners in our states are already struggling to deal with the health and property issues related to the defective drywall.  We believe that these impacted homeowners should not be further victimized by spending additional funds on remediation or preliminary testing not approved or endorsed by the federal government or any state agency,” stated the letter that was authored by Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu.  In addition to Cochran and Wicker, other signees included David Vitter (R-La.), Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner (both D-Va.), and Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

“As we work together with the designated federal and state agencies to develop real solutions to the problems created by contaminated drywall, it is important that the FTC ensure that homeowners are protected from companies seeking to make fast money off the misfortune of these homeowners,” the Senators wrote.

Following well-publicized reports detailing the problems with defective Chinese drywall, companies and individuals have announced and advertised “solutions” for affected homeowners.  These solutions promise testing procedures to identify Chinese drywall or remediation protocols that claim to completely remove the product from homes.  Some companies have even advertised that they are part of a national certification program, despite the fact that the federal government has yet to fully determine the exact substances in this faulty product.

Cochran and Wicker said Mississippians concerned about drywall in their homes can visit the Drywall Information Center website, which provides information on the problem and how to report cases to authorities.  The site is hosted by the CPSC, EPA, Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
As of late October, the CPSC had received 1,900 incident reports from 30 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.