As Florida Drywall Problems Grow, Group Calls for Lawmakers to ActJan 16, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP
More and more Florida homeowners are reporting putrid odors in their homes that could be connected to defective Chinese drywall. According to a report on LakewoodRanchHerald.com, health officials have received at least 30 complaints from around the state. Meanwhile, a consumer advocacy group which has been hearing from worried Florida homeowners says legislation may be needed to protect consumers, the Website reports.
Drywall is the board used to make interior walls. Owners of new homes - mostly in South Florida, but some in Virginia as well - have been complaining of drywall that smells like rotten eggs. Reports indicate that the drywall emits a sulfur compound that corrodes wiring, air conditioning coils and other metals, and may cause health problems from chronic exposure. It has been determined that the drywall responsible for these problems was imported from China.
Usually, drywall is manufactured in the United States, but a shortage between 2004 and 2006 prompted many builders to buy drywall from China. Most of the reported problems stem from drywall imported from China during Florida’s construction boom years of 2004-2005. One official with a large building supply company recently told a Florida newspaper that more than 10-million square feet of the Chinese drywall was imported to southwest Florida during that time.
Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. of China, a subsidiary of German-based manufacturer Knauf, is the company at the center of Florida’s drywall problems. Knauf has issued a statement insisting that the sulfur-like smell coming out of its drywall poses no dangers. The company maintains that the damage done to air conditioning and electrical wiring is the result of drywall made by some other company - though it has been unable to name which one.
A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health told LakewoodRanchHerald.com that the state is still receiving reports of drywall problems from residents. Less than two percent of the calls concern health problems, and cause for the symptoms have not been determined. So far, the health department has not conducted any testing.
According to LakewoodRanchHerald.com, the Community Advocacy Network has been receiving calls about drywall problems for the past three weeks. “We think this is going to be a big problem. We think it will probably be addressed legislatively at some point," the group's Executive Director Donna Berger told the Web site.
Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, told LakewoodranchHerald.com that he is unsure whether the matter will go before the legislature or be handled by the Florida Building Commission, which reviews and approves products for construction use in Florida.