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Defective Chinese Drywall Not Sold at Home Depot, Lowe's

Apr 15, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Home Depot Inc. and Lowe's Cos. Inc. are trying to reassure customers that drywall purchased at their stores is safe.  According to The Palm Beach Post, the home improvement retailers say they have verified that none of their stores sold Chinese drywall that has recently been tied to problems in homes throughout the country.

Chinese drywall reportedly emits sulfur fumes that produce a “rotten eggs” odor and cause metals, such as air conditioning coils, to corrode. The fumes have also been associated with respiratory and sinus problems in some residents. In some homes, the drywall problems have been so severe that families have had to move, and some builders have begun gutting and replacing drywall in the buildings.

Usually, drywall is manufactured in the U.S., but the rebuilding necessitated by the devastating 2006 hurricane season, and housing boom that was occurring at the same time, prompted many builders to buy drywall from China. Investigators are still trying to determine how much drywall was imported. According to an Associated Press report, between 2004 and 2008, 540 million pounds of Chinese drywall entered the U.S. In 2006 alone, enough Chinese drywall was imported to build 340,000 homes.

While defective Chinese drywall has turned up in dozens of homes across the country, Home Depot and Lowe's say anyone who purchased drywall from their stores can relax.  "When we heard about the issue, we immediately got suppliers on the phone," a spokesperson for The Home Depot told the Palm Beach Post. "We have only three or four suppliers and they provided us with written documentation that ... we have not and do not purchase Chinese-made drywall."

Unfortunately, dozens of builders did buy Chinese drywall from other suppliers.  So far, most of the drywall complaints have come from southern states, where a warm, humid climate encourages the emission of sulfur fumes. The Florida Health Department has received over 150 complaints so far, though experts say as many as 35,000 homes may have used the material. In Louisiana, there have been at least 350 reports. Complaints have also come from Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina.

But it is likely Chinese drywall was used elsewhere. In dryer, cooler areas of the country, it could be years before homeowners begin seeing the problems associated with the material.

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