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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 07, 2009
Contact: Christina Stephens, christina.stephens@la.gov

Louisiana Encourages Homeowners with Contaminated Drywall to Report Problems to the State
Louisiana launches drywall hotline, online survey to help quantify drywall problems

BATON ROUGE, La. – The state of Louisiana continues an outreach effort to gather data about homes affected by contaminated drywall, which can emit chemicals that cause corrosion of copper and metal tubing and electrical wiring, by launching a hotline today where homeowners can report problem drywall incidents.

Louisiana homeowners who suspect that they have contaminated drywall, regardless of if they live in homes rebuilt after the 2005 storms, can contact the state in two ways:

  • Completing the online form at lra.louisiana.gov/drywallform
  • Calling the state’s Contaminated Drywall hotline at 1-866-684-1713 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

 “Because of the large scale of the rebuilding effort from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, our fear is that many homeowners who rebuilt in the aftermath of the storms could find themselves with contaminated drywall in their homes,” said Paul Rainwater, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. “We believe this problem is much larger than what has been reported and is much bigger than Louisiana, so we will use the data we gather on homes to continue to make the case for direct federal aid to homeowners, including the possibility of using existing disaster programs for temporary housing and rebuilding assistance.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has requested reports from each governor about the level of contaminated drywall problems in their states by December 16, 2009. The Louisiana Recovery Authority, working with other state agencies to compile a comprehensive list of homes with problem drywall, will provide this information by this deadline and continue to update the CPSC regularly as homeowners continue to report problems. Homeowners who previously completed the online form at lra.louisiana.gov do not need to contact the state again.

CPSC reports show that as of December 3, only 415 homeowners had reported having contaminated drywall in Louisiana. Hundreds of homeowners already have contacted Louisiana state agencies, and the state is concerned the problem is being underreported in Louisiana. In total, the CPSC has reports from 2,276 homeowners in 32 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Louisiana residents represent 18 percent of this total, making the state second only to Florida in reported incidents of problem drywall.

The state will use the data collected from its outreach efforts to make the case for federal aid directly to homeowners. The state will not share the data with any private group or with homeowners’ insurance companies. But it could be shared with other state and federal agencies responding to the drywall problem.

LOUISIANA’S AID FOR HOMEOWNERS:

The LRA’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a plan to devote $5 million to assisting Road Home applicants now affected by contaminated drywall. The plan awaits federal approval by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Under the plan, once the federal government has released its testing and remediation protocol for dealing with these drywall problems, Louisiana will use $5 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds allocated after hurricanes Katrina and Rita to aid homeowners in the Road Home program who now have contaminated drywall problems.

Because of federal regulations governing how Louisiana uses its CDBG funds, they can only be used to help existing applicants to the Road Home program. However, the state encourages all homeowners to report their drywall problems to the state.

The Road Home program has provided more than $8 billion in rebuilding aid to 125,707 applicants since 2006.

SIGNS A HOME MAY HAVE CONTAMINATED DRYWALL:

The federal government has not yet come up with a standard test for determining if a home has contaminated drywall. In November, the CPSC announced that there was a “strong association” between homes with the problem drywall and the levels of hydrogen sulfide in those homes and corrosion of metals in those homes. The federal government is still investigating the possible health effects on homeowners.

However, homeowners believe to have contaminated drywall in their homes have reported:

  • Corrosion of copper pipes, plumbing fixtures, or electrical wires at light switches or receptacles;
    Failing air conditioner evaporator coils;
  • Odor of sulfur, which would smell like rotten eggs, matches or fireworks;
  • In addition, some drywall is labeled as being “Made In China” on the back. However, not all Chinese drywall is defective.

Some homeowners with contaminated drywall also have reported health problems, including nose bleeds, headaches, coughs, upper respiratory or sinus issues and rashes.

Homeowners experiencing health issues they think are connected with contaminated drywall in their homes should see a doctor or health provider.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CONTAMINATED DRYWALL:

Created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the coordinating and planning body leading the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history. The central point for hurricane recovery in Louisiana, the LRA works closely with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and partners with state and federal agencies to oversee more than $20 billion worth of programs, speed the pace of rebuilding, remove hurdles and red tape and ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.

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