NU Online News Service, Nov. 24, 3:55 p.m.EST

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission defended a study itcommissioned on Chinese drywall after a chemical trade groupcriticized one of its findings related to the presence offormaldehyde.

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Yesterday, the CPSC announced the completion of a 51-home studyconducted by Massachusetts-based Environmental Health &Engineering (EH&E) which found a linkage between the Chinesedrywall, the level of hydrogen sulfide in homes with the drywall,and the corrosion of metal components in the homes.

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A passage in the study regarding health problems reported in thehomes stated: "While the study of 51 homes detected hydrogensulfide and formaldehyde in homes containing the problem drywall atconcentrations below irritant levels, it is possible that theadditive or synergistic effects of these and other compounds in thesubject homes could cause irritant effects."

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The Arlington, Va.-based Formaldehyde Council took exception tothat finding and issued a statement.

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The Formaldehyde Council, a group of chemical producers andmanufacturing firms, lists its mission on its Web site as "[t]oencourage accurate scientific evaluation of formaldehyde andformaldehyde-based materials and to communicate sound scientificinformation relating to the uses, benefits and sustainability ofthese products."

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Betsy Natz, executive director of the council, said about thestudy, "Formaldehyde is not associated with corrosion and is not acomponent of dry wall. It is irresponsible to speculate thatformaldehyde and hydrogen sulfide can act in a synergistic oradditive manner to cause irritant effects in human beings at thelow levels found in the CPSC study."

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"This is particularly the case," she said, "because the onlystatistically significant difference between the complaint andcontrol homes examined in the study was the levels of hydrogensulfide detected, while there was no difference between the levelsof formaldehyde measured in each group."

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Alex Filip, deputy director of public affairs for CPSC,responded, "Our scientists said they believe there was anassociation between those two elements and other contaminants."

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He said the confusion may stem from the omission of "othercontaminants" in some media reports. Some stories, he noted, onlyreported the hydrogen sulfide and formaldehyde combination.

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"Our people believe it's a synergistic effect of the two mainthings discovered [formaldehyde and hydrogen sulfide] and othercontaminants," he said.

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