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Chinese Drywall Fears Leave Florida Homeowners Worried, Raise Product Liability Concerns

Many homeowners in Florida and across the country are worried about whether they have Chinese drywall. Some drywall made in China has been found to be tainted, or made with products that emit sulphide gases such as hydrogen sulphide gas, which is toxic. Some homeowners have reported that the drywall corrodes pipes and wiring, causing problems with appliances and key home systems.

Worse, some experts believe that the Chinese drywall releases dangerous chemicals into the air, which can cause serious illnesses and health problems. Homeowners who have been exposed to Chinese drywall chemicals may experience fatigue, shortness of breath and other breathing problems, dizziness, headaches, sleep problems, and eye irritations. It is believes that 100 000 homes across the country have Chinese drywall. Some media reports have suggested that 10-million square feet of the tainted Chinese drywall was brought into parts of Florida. Experts estimate there are 35 000 homes in Florida affected by the problem drywall.

While recalls of China-made products have been in the news for the past few years, there are several facts about the Chinese drywall problem that make it particularly worrying. There is no recall that can easily fix the drywall problem. Many homeowners affected by the problem cannot simply remove the drywall without tearing down substantial parts of their homes. Worse, ascertaining whether there is tainted drywall present is difficult without taking apart walls.

In early March, a lawsuit was filed against the Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. of China and against WCI, a builder. Other companies and contractors have been named in product liability suits stemming from the tainted drywall scandal. Unfortunately, manufacturers of the drywall have denied any problems with the product and have denied that any personal injury can result from the drywall. Some companies involved in the lawsuit —such as WCI – have simply filed for bankruptcy, which means that homeowners may have a difficult time getting a settlement or a resolution.

The tainted Chinese drywall was likely first imported into the US in 2005. That year, a housing boom meant that US-made supplies and drywall were not readily available. By late 2008, homeowners first began to learn that their drywall might be tainted. Research is still being done to definitively link tainted drywall to homeowner health problems. Toxicologist Patricia Williams of the University of New Orleans has been doing preliminary research and has found that there does appear to be a link between the drywall and some troubling symptoms, such as sinus irritation, bleeding noses and skin rashes.

Homeowners who are worried about Chinese drywall in their homes might want to look for some common signs of the problem drywall. The drywall has been reported to give off an odor similar to rotten eggs. Also, homeowners with the drywall have reported that air-conditioning evaporator coils corrode very quickly and must be replaced. Some homeowners also require wiring repairs and pipe repairs in homes that are not very old. Inexplicable wiring, air conditioning and pipe problems can be a sign of Chinese drywall problems.