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Drywall From China Forcing Residents To Leave

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, January 22, 2009 6:29 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Environmental Health, Air Pollution, Public Health, Indoor Air

South Florida has problems with drywall from China  with an intense sulfur smell.



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ map of Florida/ author: Eric Gaba 


Residents of South Florida are complaining about a foul smell coming from drywall that is made in China. 

According to the Bradentonherald.com the state health department has received 39 complaints many from Manatee, Sarasota, Pinellas, St. Lucie, Collier and Lee counties.

In some cases the smell of rotten eggs has been so overpowering that many owners of newer homes have had to leave their homes. The reports are that the foul smelling drywall emits an odor that corrodes the air conditioning coils and wiring causing failure.

During the construction boom of 2004 and 2005, and following Hurricane Katrina, there was reportedly not enough plasterboard supply for the domestic housing market. 

Knauf Pasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. Of China has issued a statement that there is no danger posed by the sulfur-smelling walls.  The company, a subsidiary of a German company, was one of many exporters to home builders working in Southwest Florida, reportedly sending more than 10-million square feet of drywall from China.  

Knauf Tianjin told the Wall Street Journal that the wallboard is made of naturally mined gypsum. The company said it smelled odors and then switched mines and installed devices to monitor gases. The drywall problem seems to be confined to South Florida.

Lennar Homes discovered the problem in its monitoring of home repairs. Many customers were experiencing the same problem with air conditioning systems and neighbors were talking among themselves. It was then that the residents of Montauk Point Crossing shared their problems.

Among them, belt buckles tarnished, computers had to be repaired, and jewelry, mirrors and picture frames became tarnished.  And Maryna Haiduk noticed her two-year-old son, Leonardas Vapsva had health problems such as a runny nose and respiratory problems.

“None of our family members have respiratory problems,” Haiduk said to the Bradenton Herald. “ He was wheezing all the time and to recover from a regular cold it would take him two months.”

Lennar Homes and Taylor Morrison built many of the homes with the problems.  At least 80 Lennar Homes reportedly have the problem. Lennar says it will replace the drywall, air conditioners, pipes and wiring damaged by the fumes. It has plans to test dozens more homes.  Lennar also says it will provide temporary relocation expenses to the families displaced.

Lennar said in a statement that the sulfur compounds are far below the most stringent government health and safety standards. It hired Environ to do the testing. The environmental consulting firm found sulfur-based gasses that can corrode equipment, wires and pipes,were coming from drywall at other developments. BradentonHerald.com says residents of the Lennar neighborhoods who want to see the testing information have been unable to.  

Lennar Homes says in a statement, “Lennar has never specified imported drywall from China for installation in its homes and never received a discount when it was substituted for domestic products. Lennar has been working diligently with its homeowners in an effort to address this industry-wide defective product issue.”  

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune characterizes Lennar as “the most responsible builder so far” on the issue of Chinese drywall. Lennar says it plans to seek remedies from the manufacturer and other responsible parties.  

Lennar has built about 250,000 homes in the last ten years.  It is the second-largest national builder, responsible for constructing approximately 250,000 homes over the last 10 years.  #

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