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Chinese Drywall Problem Moves Across Florida

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, February 18, 2009 2:52 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Chinese Drywall, Product Liability, Dangerous and Defective Products, China, CPSC, EPA

Nobody knows just how far the China drywall problem goes outside of Florida. 



IMAGE SOURCE:  Sarasota Herald-Tribune Web site / Ryan Willis at home 


Just how many homes are built with foul-smelling wallboard from China?

Many residents of coastal Florida have been reporting problems to the health department and their contractor. Now the problem has moved to inland Florida to the town of Sebring, about 90 miles east of Sarasota.

Gases coming from the drywall or wallboard, as it is also called, seem to be emitting some type of corrosive that is blackening pipes and wiring. Some residents say they are getting sick. 

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports on Ryan Willis and his wife who moved to Sebring in 2006. They helped build their home, the first one they’ve owned, by laying tile and painting the walls. 

By 2007, the air conditioner failed four times. Silver plates blackened as did metal light fixtures. The television and satellite receivers stopped working. 

On the back of the drywall, Willis took a picture of the name, Knauf Tianjin, a China-based subsidiary of a German company.

The Herald-Tribune looked into shipping records and found enough drywall from China has been offloaded at U.S. ports to build 60,000 average-size homes.

A home inspector told Willis that he suspects dozens of homes in Sebring were built with the drywall.

Builder Salvatore Meliti, 81 of Avon Park, Florida, says he plans to make it right, but has no resources right now.  He says that a Lakeland-based distributor sold him the Knauf Tianjin wallboard. 

Other builders who might have used it include some of the biggest names in residential construction such as Lennar, Taylor Morrison homes, WCI, Meritage, Ryland, Standard Pacific Homes, and Aubuchon Homes.

In one development along the Manatee River, Lennar’s Heritage Harbour, they are ripping out much of the interior walls to correct the problem.

Consumers generally smell a foul sulphur-like odor. Lennar says the drywall poses no health hazard. Knauf’s lab came to the same conclusion. 

The paper reports that the problem may span outside of Florida. One consumer group says its investigation finds Chinese drywall in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, north and South Carolina, Virginia and Texas.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Environmental Protection Agency to determine whether the drywall is toxic to humans.

Nelson reports there are no safety standards regulating gypsum-based building products such as drywall, and this issue highlights the need for standards. 

Residents Talk to InjuryBoard

A respondent to IB News- Honolulu says that the wallboard may actually be Chinese magnesium oxide board, also called Mag Board, MgO Board and Dragon Board. Wet it and it releases magnesium chloride, corrosive to metal, he says. Heat it and it releases magnesium oxide fumes.

Another person writes that the inspector told her to look at the drywall on the walls, not the ceiling, because Chinese drywall doesn’t stay flat enough to make a ceiling.   

There is not necessarily a smell, writes another, but corrosive pipes and wiring. Wayne Parson’s blog has at least two dozen people who appear to be impacted by the Chinese drywall. 

Joe Saunders, IB partner from Sarasota, adds to the conversation as does Steve Lombardi from Iowa who says that the Chinese government’s secret closed government, lack of independent media and of civil litigation with its requirement for full disclosure, all serve to keep information secret and the public in the dark.   #


Anonymous User
Posted by beckett way Townhomes
Wednesday, February 18, 2009 9:12 PM EST

A lot of us in this Lennar built community in Tarpon Springs, FL have been affected by this issue and are moving forward to getting it resolved, we hope, as some Buildings are planned to be moved out and have the wiring, appliances and drywall replaced.

Anonymous User
Posted by jasper mills
Friday, February 20, 2009 5:54 PM EST

Do you really think that Lennar is willing to help out? They want to sweep the problem under the rug. Are any of the residents in the affected homes getting sick?

Anonymous User
Posted by Wally
Friday, February 20, 2009 9:29 PM EST

If Lennar wants to stay in business, it appears they must fix homes with defective drywall or ,as I see it, mortgage companies will probably refuse to finance Lennar built homes. Of course, the homeowners alternative would be to let the mortgage company foreclose on the home. Mortgage foreclosures based upon defective drywall would definitely be against any builders best interest.

Posted by Gerry McGill
Sunday, February 22, 2009 10:43 PM EST

I am just wondering given the massive rebuilding after the 2004 and 2005 Florida hurricane seasons and the massive material shortages on everything from roof shingles to drywall just how much of a problem will this turn out to be?

Anonymous User
Posted by Bill Rush
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 10:45 PM EST

To say that all Chinese drywall is unsafe or that USA drywall and cement boards are safe is not true. According to georgia Pacific, 90% of US homes contain paper faced gypsum with mold in the inside cavity. All USA cement boards contain silica. When breathed, it may cause Silicosis,a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease caused by overexposure to respirable crystalline silica.

Your comment in your article is wrong and should be removed, "A respondent to IB News- Honolulu says that the wallboard may actually be Chinese magnesium oxide board, also called Mag Board, MgO Board and Dragon Board. Wet it and it releases magnesium chloride, corrosive to metal, he says. Heat it and it releases magnesium oxide fumes."

MgO boards are safe and do not produce magnesium oxide fumes when heated. It actually has a low or zero smoke and flame rating (ASTM E-84)and will not produce fumes. When wet, there are no or very little magnesium chloride fumes. Even if there were, magnesium chloride has culinary uses and as a deicer for roads. It is much less toxic to plant life surrounding highways and airports, and is less corrosive to concrete and steel (and other iron alloys) than sodium chloride. The liquid magnesium chloride is sprayed on dry pavement (tarmac) prior to precipitation or wet pavement prior to freezing temperatures in the winter months to prevent snow and ice from adhering and bonding to the roadway.

So please get your facts straight before we start trashing and grouping products by nationality instead of looking at the real problem. In this case it was a huge german company, Knaupf sourcing its gypsum from a mine that had high concentrations of sulfur.....

Anonymous User
Posted by Lori
Saturday, March 07, 2009 8:59 PM EST

Has anyone heard of any Standard Pacific homes affected and where were they located?

Posted by Robert F. Vokes
Tuesday, March 10, 2009 10:17 AM EST

Chinese Drywall corrosion problem and responsibilityis missappropriated to the buyer of Chinese drywall eg. Lennart et al.

Chemical engineering evaluation by the customer is appropriate simply to describe the problem for the benefit of the supplier--the Chinese and
associate sources of raw materials.

Health problems may be evaluated noting the use of Sulphur in the Pulp and Paper Industry, eg: Sulphur burners in the Sulphite Pulp Mills in the past and Salt
Cake in Kraft Pulp Mills today.

Anonymous User
Posted by Mike Faucett
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 11:28 AM EST

My firm has formed a drywall inspection team of engineers and indoor environmentalists. We also utilize the testing labs of EMSL.We recommend an inexpensive field inspection, before commiting to expensive lab tests.

Anonymous User
Posted by Tom Irmiter
Wednesday, March 25, 2009 6:29 PM EST

We have a number of cases unrelated to the drywall issue with Lennar in Minnesota. We are a Forensic Testing and inspection Engineering company. 651 222 6509. WE also do IAQ testing.

Comments for this article are closed.

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