NU Online News Service, Feb. 1, 12:34 p.m. EST
A number of deaths that occurred in Louisiana, Florida and Virginia were not likely due to the presence of Chinese drywall in homes, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) review.
The review, conducted at the request of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), looked into 11 deaths in the three states after family members had expressed concern about a possible connection to the imported drywall.
Government agencies, collectively called the “Interagency Drywall Task Force,” have been studying homes containing Chinese drywall since homeowners reported health problems and structural degradation after living in homes that used Chinese drywall from 2004-2007, when domestic drywall was in short supply.
Studies released by the CPSC have found a linkage between the Chinese drywall, the level of hydrogen sulfide in homes with the drywall and the corrosion of metal components in the homes. The connection to health effects has been murkier. The CPSC said acid gases found in the homes are known to irritate the eyes and respiratory tract, but typically at higher concentrations than found in its investigation. The CPSC has said it is “possible that the additive or synergistic effects of these and other compounds in the subject homes could cause irritant effects.”
In the latest study, though, the CDC concluded that exposure to the imported drywall is not believed to be a contributing factor to the 11 deaths. In all 11 cases, the decedents had preexisting chronic health conditions before their deaths.
For five cases studied in Louisiana, four decedents had heart disease in addition to “such other severe illnesses as cancer, diabetes and systemic lupus erythematosus.” The fifth person had metastatic cancer and vascular-related diseases.
For the five cases in Florida, four of the decedents had various forms of cancer, and the fifth had a “primary diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease with other chronic illnesses.” Two people also had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The remaining decedent, in Virginia, was an 82-year-old person with chronic heart disease, acute cholecystitis and pneumonia before death.
For its study, the CDC coordinated with physicians in each state “who are health officials with the appropriate authority and relevant expertise and experience to conduct the reviews.”
While concluding that none of the deaths were determined to be associated with imported drywall exposure, the CDC recommended that the CPSC continue to monitor health reports and request CDC assistance when necessary.