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Virginia Launches Chinese Drywall Website

Apr 17, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP A Website that provides information on Chinese drywall has been set up by the city of Virginia Beach and the Virginia Department of Health.  Virginia is one of several states where homeowners have reported problems with potentially toxic Chinese drywall.

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.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the U.S. imported roughly 309 million square feet of drywall from China during the housing boom from 2004 to 2007.

In January, Florida homeowners first began reporting many of the problems associated with Chinese drywall.  But according to The Wall Street Journal, homeowners in Virginia, as well people living in homes along the Gulf Coast that were rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina, are also reporting problems.  It seems the warm, humid climate in the south encourages the drywall to emit sulfur fumes.  Some experts fear that in cooler, dryer areas of the country, it could be years before Chinese drywall causes problems.

In Virginia, one builder, The Dragas Companies, has acknowledged some of the homes it built have been the subject of drywall complaints. As we've reported previously, the firm is inspecting nearly every home it built in The Hampshires at Greenbrier in Chesapeake and in Cromwell Park in Virginia Beach. Dragas is also paying to fix homes with imported drywall and helping residents relocate for a few months while the work is being done.

A Virginia construction materials supplier, Venture Supply Inc., has said it imported 2,000 pallets of China-made drywall between March 2006 and December 2008.  That would be enough for about 240 homes  Dragas has said it obtained drywall from Venture supply.  Venture also sold drywall to Wermers Development, the builder of the Harbor Walk condominium complex in Norfolk.  As we reported last week, the current owner of Harbor Walk, Florida-based Henin Group, is in discussions with Venture to determine whether defective drywall was used.

The information on the state of Virginia's new drywall Website includes the warning signs for toxic Chinese drywall, as well as details about the damage caused by the material's fumes.  It also provide Virginians with information on who they can contact if they suspect they have Chinese drywall in their homes.

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