President Barack Obama (D) has signed into law a bill to prevent “problematic” Chinese drywall from entering the United States. The new legislation bans highsulfur building products and sets labeling provisions for drywall, requiring each sheet to include the manufacturer’s name and the month and year that the product was produced. It also ensures that unsafe drywall will not be reused and will facilitate the process for alleged victims to take Chinese manufacturers to court to recover the cost of replacing purportedly dangerous drywall.
According to news sources, contaminated Chinese-manufactured drywall was imported and used in U.S. home construction from approximately 2001–2009. Studies of that material have shown that it can cause a corrosive environment for fire alarm systems, electrical distribution systems, gas piping, and refrigeration coils. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is required under the law to adopt a rule “that limits sulfur content to a level not associated with elevated rates of corrosion in the home.”
The legislation directs the U.S. secretary of commerce to arrange a meeting between Chinese drywall makers and U.S. officials on how to provide remedies for affected homeowners. It also instructs the Commerce Department to insist that the Chinese government direct the companies that manufactured and exported problematic drywall to submit to U.S. court jurisdiction and comply with federal rulings. The National Association of Home Builders reportedly supported the legislation. See Law360, January 2, 2013.