Chinese drywall investigation finally links tainted material to damage

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A study released this week finally connects tainted Chinese drywall to problems homeowners have long complained about, including corrosion of pipes. The study, however, stops shorts of tying the drywall to medical complaints homeowners have also filed.

“We now can show a strong association between homes with the problem drywall and the levels of hydrogen sulfide in those homes and corrosion of metals in those homes,” the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said in its report. “By identifying this association, the Interagency Drywall Task Force can now move forward to develop protocols that will identify homes with this corrosive environment and can determine the effectiveness of remediation methods.”

 

Multiple families in the Antilles community off US 1 north of Vero Beach have had to move out of their homes due to the tainted Chinese drywall they have told U.S. Congressman Bill Posey. Last month, they granted the congressman and others a tour of their homes, showing the damage they say the drywall has caused.

State and federal leaders, including State Senator Bill Nelson, have been pushing the safety commission and other agencies to create a protocol that would also help homeowners pay to have the tainted materials removed and replace the corroded pipes, wires and other items damaged.

“The study’s findings show hydrogen sulfide gas is the essential component that causes copper and silver sulfide corrosion found in the complaint homes,” the report states. “Other factors, including air exchange rates, formaldehyde and other air contaminants contribute to the reported problems.”

Officials with the safety commission said in the released report now that they have a better understanding of what is causing the corrosion – elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide and other elements – they can begin work on creating a screening process.

That process would help homeowners and government officials determine the presence of the tainted drywall and how much of it is in the home.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission will continue to study how the drywall affects individuals’ health and safety, according to Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

Antilles residents have complained of continuous headaches and respiratory problems due to the tainted drywall in their homes.

“Noah was 4 months old when we moved in and he’s been really sick,” Tripp Hernandez, a Realtor for Dale Sorensen Real Estate told Vero Beach 32963. “He’s had pneumonia twice in a six-month period and his immune system is just about nonexistent.”

Sherri Hernandez, Tripp’s wife, also was suffering from terrible headaches and Tripp said his blood chemistry was very abnormal while living in the house.

The family moved out of the home and into a rental, where their health improved.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers the following advice to homeowners who believe they might be living with tainted Chinese drywall:

Immediately report the suspicions to the CPSC by calling 800-638-2772 or logging on to www.CPSC.gov. Hearing- or speech challenged individuals may access the phone number through TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

Open windows as much as possible to let in fresh air.

Keep the temperature inside homes at the lowest comfortable setting.

Run the air conditioner or dehumidifier.

Also, spend as much time outdoors in fresh air as possible.

Do not smoke, and especially do not smoke indoors. Cigarette smoke contains, among other contaminants, formaldehyde.

The most important issue is your health and safety. If you are suffering from the health symptoms described as common to the reports of exposure to problem drywall, please consult your physician as soon as possible.

If you experience any of the electrical or fire safety concerns described as common to the reports of exposure to problem drywall, please consult your local gas or electric supplier and a licensed electrician or building inspector as soon as possible.

You should contact your State and local authorities to report your concerns and get direction on any help or resources in your area.

You should also report your concerns to the US CPS Commission using the form at www.cpsc.gov

You should also consider contacting your insurance company and homebuilder to report your concerns.

Lisa Zahner contributed to this report.

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