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Homeowners Nationwide Being Warned of Defective Chinese Drywall

Mar 10, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Owners of newer homes across the country have been warned to be on the lookout for problems that could be related to defective Chinese drywall.   The drywall may be emitting sulfur compounds that produce a noxious smell, corrode metals and cause residents to suffer respiratory and sinus ailments.  The drywall problems have already turned up in scores of homes in Florida, but a consumer advocacy group is warning that tainted Chinese drywall could have been used in thousands of homes across the country.

Usually, drywall is manufactured in the United States, but a shortage  during the housing boom prompted many builders to buy drywall from China.  The Florida Health Department has received close to 100 complaints about drywall that has polluted homes with a putrid, “rotten-egg” smell.   Some residents have been forced to move from their homes, and some builders have begun gutting homes and replacing the drywall.

Last month, Lennar Homes, one of the builders who has acknowledged using the Chinese drywall in Florida, said air quality tests it commissioned found that the material was emitting three sulfide gases that were likely causing the smell and corrosion problems - carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide and dimethyl sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide, a particularly dangerous compound with a characteristic rotten-eggs smell, was not found in Lennar’s air tests, but it was found in previous testing that the company conducted on the Chinese drywall itself. At the time, Lennar said the compounds coming from the drywall could have caused the metal corrosion seen in many of the homes.

According to the consumer group America's Watchdog, drywall from China was likely used in the Deep South, the Midwest, the Southwest and the Pacific Northwest, including Vancouver, British Columbia, and even Hawaii.   According to America's Watchdog, the material was first introduced to the US in late 2000 or early 2001 and was primarily used in new US subdivisions, condominiums or home remodeling jobs.

The group is urging people who live in these areas be aware of  the signs that defective Chinese drywall was used in their home. These include:  
  • Residents suffering severe upper respiratory issues, headaches, nose bleeds, or other severe medical indications, especially if these symptoms disappear when  residents go on vacation, or leave the home for a few days.   
  • The home may have a slight or strong, sulfur, rotten egg or even acid type smell.
  • Air conditioning coils, stove top oven elements, and or refrigerator's may be failing at an usually high rate.
  • Silver jewelry or silver wedding plates or flat ware may be tarnishing within months or even weeks.
If a resident is experiencing any of these problems, they may want to pull off five or six electrical face plates (Do Not Touch The Wires) from walls in their homes. According to America's Watchdog, if the copper ground wire or the electrical wires have turned black, or are charred, it is a good indication the home was built or remodeled with defective Chinese drywall.

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