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Chinese Drywall Being Tested By Florida Health Department

Feb 2, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

The Florida Health Department has begun running tests on the defective Chinese drywall that has ruined many new homes in the state.   According to a report on, results from the Florida Health Department drywall tests could be available sometime next month.

Over the past several months, owners of newer homes in South Florida have been complaining of drywall that smells like rotten eggs. In several cases, they have had to leave their home because the smell was so bad.  In addition to the putrid smell, many South Florida homeowners have reported problems with air conditioning and other systems that are likely related to the defective Chinese drywall.  Some spent hundreds - even thousands of dollars - to have air conditioning, pipes and wiring repaired.

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.  Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. of China, a  subsidiary of German-based manufacturer Knauf, is the company at the focus of Florida’s drywall problems.

According to the report, the Florida Health Department's toxicologist is on the road visiting homes that have been the focus of drywall complaints.  The test are aimed at determining whether the  drywall poses a health risk.  The tests will also try to determine if the drywall is emitting sulfur-based gases leading to corrosion on copper coils and wiring.

Last week, Lennar Homes, one of the builders who has acknowledged using the Chinese drywall, released its own test results just last week.  Those tests, conducted last year by Environ International, found three sulfide gases - carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide and dimethyl sulfide.  Hydrogen sulfide, a particularly dangerous compound with a characteristic rotten-eggs smell, was not found in Environ’s air tests, but it was found in previous testing that the company conducted on the Chinese drywall itself.

Lennar admitted that the gases the test found could be responsible for the corrosion problems in many of the homes.  But the company has maintained that the tests showed the levels of fumes were below what would be considered a health hazard.  However, many people have voiced doubts over that claim.

Last week, Michael Foreman, head of Sarasota construction consulting firm Foreman & Associates, told that he is disturbed by reports that residents in homes built with the defective drywall are experiencing respiratory discomfort and other problems.

“If that’s the case, then why is everybody getting sick?” Foreman said. “Why do they all have the same problems? If it’s caustic enough to eat up the components in the house, then I can only imagine it must have some effect on your body.”

According to News-Press, results of the Florida Health Department test may be available during an informational forum planned for next month to determine whether the drywall is a public health risk.  

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