Product Liability

Families flee homes containing Chinese drywall

Congress, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a spectrum of state and consumer agencies are scrambling to unravel the mystery behind tons of toxic drywall that importers brought into the country from China. Enough drywall to build 30,000 homes entered U.S. ports from China in 2006 and 2007. Now, people in as many as 18 states claim that the drywall is making them sick while corroding their homes’ electrical wiring, air conditioning units, and other household systems.

According to reports by CNN, 18-year-old Yorelle Haroush is leaving her aunt’s $1.2 million home in Parkland, Fla., northwest of Fort Lauderdale, because, she says, the home’s drywall emits gasses that are taking a toll on her health. It’s a claim the family’s doctor backs up.

“I said, ‘you can’t stay there anymore, because you’re sick every minute,'” Dr. Ross Nochimson, who has treated the family for years, told CNN. “They’re sick on a weekly basis. Ear aches, sore throat. I give them something, and they’re sick again.”

Dr. Nochimson recommended the remaining 5 family members also vacate the house.

“Before they bought this house, they weren’t calling every week with allergies and sore throats and ear aches and coughing,” Dr. Nochimson told CNN. “I don’t know what more I can do for them,” he said.

100 miles west, in the town of Estero just outside of Fort Myers, Alana and Joe Consolo also had to abandon their house because its ceilings and walls were made of drywall from China. According to a CNN report, the couple said they were experiencing headaches and respiratory problems. The Consolos first started to notice a problem with their new home when the smoke detectors kept sounding for no apparent reason. Opening the detectors up revealed that the copper wiring inside had turned black.

Lennar Homes, the company that built the Consolos’ home, is in the process of removing all of the Chinese drywall from the walls and ceilings of the house. It is also providing a rental house for the family until the renovation is completed, but the Consolos aren’t sure they will return home. The value of the property has plummeted, in part thanks to the economy but also because, the Consolos believe, the house now has the drywall stigma attached to it.

According to the CNN report, Lennar Homes has identified some 80 homes in which Chinese drywall was used. The company is willing to completely gut and rebuild the homes, including replacing all the tarnished copper and wiring, at no cost to the owners.

They’re doing what’s responsible, we believe,” Alana Consolo told CNN.

The company is filing a lawsuit against the drywall’s Chinese manufacturers and American suppliers.