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Florida's Chinese Drywall Problems Discussed at Forum

Feb 26, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

A  forum held in Ft. Meyers to discuss Florida's Chinese drywall problem apparently raised more questions than it answered.  According to, the lead toxicologist from the Florida Health Department told attendees that more investigation is needed before it can be determined if fumes emitted from the Chinese drywall pose a health issue.

As we’ve been reporting for the past several months, owners of newer homes in South Florida have been complaining of drywall that smells like rotten eggs. In many cases, residents 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.

Lennar Homes, one of the builders who has acknowledged using the Chinese drywall, released its own air tests of the drywall earlier this month.  Those tests, conducted last year by Environ International, found three sulfide gases - carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide and dimethyl sulfide - were being emitted from the drywall. 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 tests found could be responsible for the corrosion problems in many of the homes.

Last week, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) said it had begun an investigation of the Chinese drywall.  The probe will focus on  whether the sulfur-based gases emitted from the drywall are corroding household wiring and posing a potential safety hazard.

Since last month, the Florida Health Department has been investigating drywall complaints from Florida homeowners. Most of the homes were built after 2004, but one home that is the subject of complaints was built in 2001, News-Press said.

According to News-Press, lead toxicologist David Kraus told about 200 people at last night's meeting that the department has received about 100 such complaints.  A dozen homes investigated so far have several things in common, Kraus said.  The commonalities include corrosion of copper wires and metals, such as brass fittings; corrosion of air conditioning coils leading to Freon leaks; and exposure of residents in the home to corrosive gases, News-Press said.

But it isn't known if exposure to those gases poses a health threat to residents.  According to News-Press, Kraus said that the data the Health Department has collected so far has not "raised alarms".  But as we've reported previously, some people living in homes with defective Chinese drywall have complained of sore throats, respiratory problems and other ailments.  At last night's meeting,  Krauss said initial testing of the houses should be done in about two weeks, and the results available in about 75 days.

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