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Expert: Builder’s New Guidelines for Chinese Drywall “Feel Like a Whitewash”

New National Association of Home Builders guidelines for testing and fixing homes built with suspect Chinese drywall conflict with Consumer Product Safety Commission recommendations.

The National Association of Home Builders has developed its own way to test and fix homes built with Chinese drywall, our partners at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune have reported.

But the guidelines, due to be released on Wednesday, conflict with recommendations made last year by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Here’s the Herald-Tribune on the industry’s limited guidelines:

The document omits key research on hydrogen sulfide conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, or LBNL, considered one of the best laboratories nationwide. The California-based lab conducted extensive chamber tests that found problem Chinese drywall released orders-of-magnitude more hydrogen sulfide gas than normal drywall.

Instead, the report focuses on 17 different chemicals identified in research commissioned by Chinese drywall manufacturer Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. As we have reported, Knauf, a German-based company, argued for years that it was not legally responsible for defective drywall that its Chinese subsidiary produced. But in October 2010, the company agreed to remediate 300 homes built with its board.

The industry’s report also recommends using copper coupons to detect corrosive drywall, stating it should only take a few days.

But Michael Foreman, head of Sarasota-based Foreman & Associates, and a member of the American Society for Testing Materials committee examining the drywall, said it can take considerably more time for corrosion to become apparent.

“I was really shocked when I read some of this,” said Foreman. “A lot of it feels like a whitewash, as if it’s designed to push the kind of testing that will not give back troublesome results.”

The CPSC declined the Herald-Tribune’s request for comment and didn’t immediately return our calls this morning.

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