[Senate Hearing 112-348]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
S. Hrg. 112-348
CONTAMINATED DRYWALL: EXAMINING THE
CURRENT HEALTH, HOUSING AND PRODUCT
SAFETY ISSUES FACING HOMEOWNERS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CONSUMER PROTECTION, PRODUCT SAFETY, AND INSURANCE
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE,
SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
DECEMBER 6, 2011
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SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West Virginia, Chairman
DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas,
JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts Ranking
BARBARA BOXER, California OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine
BILL NELSON, Florida JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey JOHN THUNE, South Dakota
MARK PRYOR, Arkansas ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi
CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri JOHNNY ISAKSON, Georgia
AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota ROY BLUNT, Missouri
TOM UDALL, New Mexico JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
MARK WARNER, Virginia PATRICK J. TOOMEY, Pennsylvania
MARK BEGICH, Alaska MARCO RUBIO, Florida
KELLY AYOTTE, New Hampshire
DEAN HELLER, Nevada
Ellen L. Doneski, Staff Director
James Reid, Deputy Staff Director
Bruce H. Andrews, General Counsel
Todd Bertoson, Republican Staff Director
Jarrod Thompson, Republican Deputy Staff Director
Rebecca Seidel, Republican General Counsel and Chief Investigator
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CONSUMER PROTECTION, PRODUCT SAFETY, AND INSURANCE
MARK PRYOR, Arkansas, Chairman PATRICK J. TOOMEY, Pennsylvania,
JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts Ranking
BARBARA BOXER, California JOHN THUNE, South Dakota
CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi
TOM UDALL, New Mexico DEAN HELLER, Nevada
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held on December 6, 2011................................. 1
Statement of Senator Pryor....................................... 1
Statement of Senator Wicker...................................... 2
Statement of Senator Warner...................................... 3
Prepared statement........................................... 4
Statement of Senator Rubio....................................... 43
Neal S. Cohen, Office of Education, Global Outreach, and Small
Business Ombudsman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.... 7
Prepared statement........................................... 8
Letter dated January 23, 2012 to Hon. Mark Pryor from
Christopher Day, Director, Office of Legislative Affairs,
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.................... 39
Christopher J. Portier, Ph.D., Director, National Center for
Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services......... 15
Prepared statement........................................... 17
William C. Shelton, Director, Virginia Department of Housing and
Community Development.......................................... 19
Prepared statement........................................... 20
Brenda Brincku--Alva, Florida.................................... 26
Prepared statement........................................... 28
Letters from the General Public.................................. 53
CONTAMINATED DRYWALL: EXAMINING THE
CURRENT HEALTH, HOUSING AND PRODUCT
SAFETY ISSUES FACING HOMEOWNERS
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2011
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product
Safety, and Insurance,
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:03 a.m. in
room SR-253, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. Mark Pryor,
Chairman of the Subcommittee, presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. MARK PRYOR,
U.S. SENATOR FROM ARKANSAS
Senator Pryor. I'll go ahead and open this, call this
meeting to order. And I want to thank all of you all for being
here, I want to thank our witnesses and thank our fellow
senators, to talk about this very important issue.
I want to give a special thanks to Senator Warner, because
he has been the primary driver in getting this hearing
scheduled today. So, Senator Warner, thank you for your
leadership on this and many other things.
The purpose of the hearing today is to provide an update on
the health and product safety issues associated with problem
drywall installed in thousands of homes over the last decade.
It's a story that we all know well. Drywall was imported from
China in large volumes during the height of the housing market
when domestic supplies were low. It was used extensively in
Florida and Louisiana following the devastating hurricanes of
In early 2008, homeowners in Florida and Louisiana began
complaining of a peculiar odor that was permeating their homes.
They also reported health concerns and serious corrosion of
metal in the homes. Investigators were able to trace these
problems back to drywall laced with sulphur and sulphide gases.
We last examined this issue in May of 2009. At that time,
we heard from the CPSC and the CDC and the EPA about the scope,
and the problem of their efforts to address it. Progress has
been made, but unfortunately, too many consumers, too many
Americans, are left with costly repairs, uninhabitable homes,
or health problems thought to be caused by the problem drywall.
In addition to Florida and Louisiana, numerous cases of
problem drywall have been reported in Virginia and Mississippi,
as well as Alabama. All told, the CPSC has logged claims of
health problems or metal corrosion as a result of contaminated
drywall in 42 states and territories.
We hope to establish for the record how multiple Federal,
state, local, and even international, governments are working
together; make clear the pathways available to provide relief
to affected homeowners; and identify steps we must take to
ensure this problem does not repeat itself.
Today we'll hear from Mr. Neal Cohen, Small Business
Ombudsman at the Consumer Product Safety Commission; Dr.
Christopher Portier, Director of the National Center for
Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention; Mr. Bill Shelton, Director of the Virginia
Department of Housing and Community Development; and Mrs.
Brenda Brincku, a Florida homeowner.
I want to thank all the witnesses for being here today and
thank you for your testimony.
I'm surrounded here by senators from afflicted states.
So, Senator Wicker, would you like to have an opening
STATEMENT OF HON. ROGER F. WICKER,
U.S. SENATOR FROM MISSISSIPPI
Senator Wicker. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, indeed, I
appreciate the scheduling of this hearing today, and I
appreciate your interest, and that of Senator Warner.
Tainted drywall has affected thousands of homes throughout
the United States. It is most prevalent, as the Chair says, in
coastal states. Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Virginia, and my
home state of Mississippi have been hardest hit.
To handle the increased demand during post-Hurricane
Katrina rebuilding along the Gulf Coast, as well as during the
Nation's housing boom, domestic producers expanded their
facilities to increase capacity. However, despite this
increased production, unusually high demand required importing
drywall from sources outside North America, including China.
Dealing with this problem drywall has been a disaster for
homeowners. It causes corrosion to many of their electrical
components, and can potentially cause adverse health effects,
including difficulty in breathing.
There have been multiple agencies working together: CPSC,
CDC, EPA and HUD have been collaborating for the past 2 years
to determine the flaws of the drywall--particularly how it is
affecting homes and the families that live in them.
Interestingly, no causal connection has been found by the
Government between the health effects experienced and the
drywall. This perplexes me, and it concerns me, and I hope to
learn more about the reasoning for this.
I also look forward to hearing about the CPSC's
communication with Chinese officials, and whether there has
been any progress on finding remediation options for
Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. I
look forward to listening to today's witnesses, and getting a
full update on their respective progress and current views on
this important issue. Thank you.
Senator Pryor. Senator Wicker, thank you. And thank you for
your interest in this, because I know we've talked about this
before, and it's very important to your state and your people
back home to make sure we get this right.
STATEMENT OF HON. MARK R. WARNER,
U.S. SENATOR FROM VIRGINIA
Senator Warner. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and let me
thank you for holding this hearing.
I've been involved in politics, government for 20 years. I
can't think of a more frustrating issue that I've been involved
with than this issue of drywall, and, an issue where the
affected families--and I know the CPSC's logjam, about 4,000 at
this point, that have gone through some level of certification
and toward a remediation process--but the numbers are much,
But, these families' lives have been basically devastated
for multiple years, calling in our state, going down and
visiting an affected home with Chairman Tenenbaum a couple
years back. And it took less than 45 minutes for me to be in
the home to come out with a burning nose, headache for the rest
of the day. And yet, the families had to go through a year,
two-year-plus multiple CDC studies, and then trying to get the
Consumer Product Safety Commission to come up with appropriate
remediation standards. And many of these families have no place
else to turn. And then, if they do move, if they at some point
say, you know--to see children with family--with small children
living outside, having to then move out of their home, move
into rental facilities. And then, on top of that, they have the
enormous financial crush that comes from banks that are still
expecting those mortgage payments.
We've worked with the banks to get remediation, and we've
worked with the IRS to try to get some safe harbor. We're going
to hear from Bill Shelton, who is, has been as concerned as any
official at the state level that I have been, from Virginia and
some of the activities we're trying to do in Virginia.
But, these families continue to get ping-ponged from one
entity to another. I've talked to a couple of my constituents
here, one who just lost their home this week, and another who
has been one of the leaders in this effort. She told me she'll
be losing her home on Friday.
One of the things that I think--echoing what Senator Wicker
said--you know, the Chinese government, which owns some of
these companies, wants to proceed in international commerce;
yet they seem to be unwilling to step up and be financially
responsible for faulty product that was sold into our country.
There's a German company that sold some faulty product as
well, but there was a major settlement. There were, I think
we're going to hear from Ms. Brincku on even some American
product. But, there has to be a path here for these affected
families--and I'm anxious to hear from the testimony--and also,
even for families that if, at the end of the day, lose their
homes, find a way to get their, at least, their credit
restored, because they got into these circumstances through no
malfeasance on their own.
We did work to make sure that, I found in our area in
Hampton Roads, a number of folks work for the military. They
were potentially going to have not only the health care loss,
the housing loss; but if they worked for the military, because
they then might have, in effect, a financial blot on their
record, they could lose their security clearance and then lose
their jobs. So, we finally work with Defense security services
to make sure that there would be, again, recognition of this so
that when folks were doing their background checks, this wasn't
held against them.
So, I again want to thank the Chairman and thank Senator
Wicker for his interest, as well. But, this is about as
frustrating an issue, again, in, when I started 20 years plus
of politics, that I've ever seen. And we need to try to find
some way to get these folks some answers.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Senator Warner follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. Mark Warner, U.S. Senator from Virginia
Toxic drywall has dramatically affected over 4,000 homeowners
nationwide including many Virginians. In order to capture a portion of
the hardships and difficulties encountered by Virginians, I would like
to include some their stories in the record for today's hearing.
Ms. Albania Tyler--Hampton, VA
In August 2010, it was discovered that 75 percent of my new home,
built 2006, was contaminated with toxic Chinese drywall. The drywall
has caused several major appliances to fail. We've have over ten
services and repairs to our central air and heating units since 2007,
electrical wiring problems throughout our home, and corrosion of our
bathroom fixtures. Currently, I have no air conditioning or heat
because units are not properly working. We've also have had two minor
electrical fires in our refrigerator and doorbell transmitter as a
result of corroded wiring. Because the odor has become so unbearable, I
have been forced to move my family to rental property. I have attempted
to short sale my home to a cash investor but my mortgage lender has
denied the sale due to low offer. I am currently facing foreclosure.
Mrs. Karen Tompkins--Williamsburg, VA
In January 2010, our family discovered our home in Braemar Creek,
Williamsburg, VA, was constructed with toxic Chinese Drywall. We had
three children five years and younger, and because of unknown health
risks, immediately abandoned the home. We lived with relatives for
several months, while awaiting resolution from our builder and worked
with our mortgage company to avoid foreclosure. In order to afford a
rental home, we stopped making payments in March 2010. By September our
home was bank-owned due to a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure. Our credit
scores suffered greatly. We are still awaiting results of ongoing court
hearings and have not given up hope for compensation from the drywall
manufacturers, suppliers, and Chinese Government. Thank you for
continuing to work on behalf of thousands or residents like us who have
lost their homes due to Chinese Drywall.
Mr. Robert Orlando--Williamsburg, VA
I took a new job and relocated my family to Virginia in 2009. The
home we bought was built with toxic drywall manufactured in China. We
were forced to move out and lived in a rental home for two years on the
brink of bankruptcy. Our mortgage servicer and investor worked with us
on a short payoff of our mortgage and our local bank lent us enough
money to rebuild. However, this would not have been possible without
financial help from our family. We have lost over $200 thousand due to
this ``drywall disaster'' and we need someone to help us recover our
Ms. Michelle Germano--Norfolk, VA
My life was destroyed by contaminated drywall imported from China.
The toxins from the drywall destroyed my health, home, personal
belongings, and finances. I am living in a rental home with porch
furniture. I was forced to leave everything behind because I was so
sick. That was nearly three years ago. At 61, I am forced to re-start
my life, broke and sick.
Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Baldwin--Williamsburg, VA
After three years of living in our home we are on our third set of
air conditioner coils, our third home computer, and have had to replace
a failed air handler motor, a failed microwave, a failed refrigerator
and a failed thermostat. We continue to live in the house and pay our
mortgage despite the fact that our home is worthless in the open
market. We are throwing money away with no hope of intervention or
Mrs. Zenaida Perez--Newport News, VA
I am a school teacher and a single mother, who built a house at
Hollymeade, Village in 2007. Due to the Chinese Drywall situation that
we are experiencing, I had to move out of my home and my finances have
been terribly affected to the point of declaring Bankruptcy. I don't
know how long this situation is going to last, but I feel it's not
taking us anywhere and I am facing a terrible situation with the
Mortgage Company as well. They don't want to approve a loan
modification due to the loss of value of my property that went down
from $257,000 to less than $100,000.The worst part is that I invested
everything I had on that home, and now it is lost.
Mr. Richard Ilich--Suffolk, VA
Chinese Drywall has ruined me and my family's life. My 6 year old
son developed Asthma and suffered violent attacks when in the house. We
don't know if there are other long term affects at this point. I've
lost my credit, my home which was part of my retirement investment,
spent thousands of dollars on appliances, HVAC, and furniture which
needed replacement, and to date there is no tangible method/way/or
outlook to get out from under this sheetrock. Just about everyone is
empathetic to our situation, but empathy does not pay for two homes, it
does not pay two heating bills, it does not pay homeowners fees, it
does not extend or protect your credit to buy a new car when you need
it, it does not prevent the games and hassles the mortgage companies
put us through, it does not stop the depression, and it does not pay
the medical bills. While I understand the need to let the legal system
play out, we are 2-4 years away from that type of resolution. It
appears insurance will play no part in the resolution and if the courts
come through for the Victims of CDW it would take several years for the
remediation to be completed, and that is if we can even collect any
money that would be awarded. If we must wait for the courts, only
government can create tangible short term solutions to help the victims
who are left isolated and devastated from this situation. We need to
have our credit protected so we can live in the meantime, we need help
preventing the games and pressure that the mortgage companies are
playing, as well as some short term relief.
Elizabeth Berry--Yorktown, VA
The CPSC states that there are close to 4,000 reports of homes with
toxic Chinese Drywall but the number of people actually affected by
toxic drywall is so much greater. Yes, we are spread out over 37
different states, and no, Chinese Drywall is not a natural disaster.
But how many lives have to be damaged in order for victims to receive
recognition and assistance? This is a disaster and we are in need of
Our homes are corroding, our financial future is in ruins as the
biggest investment of our lives is worth nothing, our credit scores are
damaged, security clearances necessary to maintain careers are in
jeopardy, and we can't afford to move out and pay for two homes. Many
of us are living in these houses with sulfuric gases--when mixed with
moisture--basically acid rain! When I kiss my kids goodnight and watch
them the toxic air in our home I become enraged. For the rest of my
life I will worry about what toxic Chinese drywall has done to the
health of my two sons.
We must create laws that will require Chinese products to meet the
highest safety standards in order to protect our citizens from harm!
Men, women and children are suffering. Tax paying, hardworking citizens
are being told, ``We are working on it, but it is a difficult issue!''
How long are we going to continue to suffer in this disaster with no
relief? My husband and I have scraped together and borrowed $100,000
into gutting and rebuilding our home. We will never recover financially
Christopher Levy--Virginia Beach, VA
I love serving my country and am writing to you from Kandahar,
Afghanistan. I am a military officer, and as such am vulnerable to be
moved at a moment's notice. My house is worth $100 as per the City of
Virginia Beach because of the toxic drywall. Thus, if I get orders, I
won't be able to sell or rent my house. I will have to leave the
service and stay in Virginia Beach, default on my loan, or soak-up the
cost of maintaining two households (the latter two options would result
in our financial ruin). Please work to return my home to a livable
condition. Thank you!
Joseph Anello--Virginia Beach, VA
My wife, mother and I built home together in 2006. Within 6 months
our AC unit failed and we replaced the coils twice. My wife and I went
to the Philippines in early 2008 to work for Verizon. My mother
remained in the home and her Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease got
progressively worse. When our A/C unit failed again we first learned of
toxic drywall. When my mother's condition rapidly declined we returned
to the U.S. and moved her out of the contaminated home. Although she
initially improved, she passed away on July 4, 2011 due to respiratory
issues. I could not sell the home and needed to move due to employment
in West Virginia. We attempted the short sale process but Wells Fargo
foreclosed on our home. The City of Virginia Beach had assessed my home
at one dollar. Thus we have since lost our mother and our credit is in
shambles. We are just awaiting results of the various legal
proceedings. Thank you for your support in this manner it is much
Mr. Mike Shen--Virginia Beach, VA
In 2011 we spent $250,000 on repairs to our house that was built in
2006. Toxic Chinese drywall destroyed everything in our house that has
metal component made from copper including AC copper coils, gas copper
pipes, electrical wires, TVs, computers, refrigerator, Wii player,
piano strings, etc. The drywall has also deeply affected our family's
health. We have suffered from nose bleeding, headaches, foot pain, arm
pain, kidney pain, and muscle pain.
Liz, Steve, and Allison Heischober--Virginia Beach, VA
We were so happy to move into our new home on November 10, 2006.
This was to be the home where we would spend our retirement years. We
are now living a nightmare. We discovered in July 2009 that the home we
purchased was built with Chinese drywall. The Chinese drywall was
causing physical damage to the home and health problems for our family.
All three of us have had physical ailments as a result of the Chinese
drywall. Seven months after living in the home, our golden retriever,
Kramer, died of kidney failure. Our second dog, Bailey, died in
December 2008 of respiratory issues. As of August 2009, we have
replaced six to seven coils in two AC units. We have had problems with
our flat screen TV, computer hard drives and monitors that crashed,
small appliances that failed, a dryer that stopped working due to
circuit board failure, and electrical outlets that had to be replaced.
Physically, we have experienced unexplained rashes, respiratory
problems, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, chronic coughs, and muscle
pain. The smell in the house is in our clothes, furniture, mattresses
and linens. Our silver jewelry and flatware have turned black and are
unable to be cleaned. When we opened our windows, our neighbor
complained of the smell that came from our home. We have documentation
to prove all of these issues.
Upon learning of the problem, the stress has become unbearable. We
moved out of our home immediately in August 2009, leaving our
belongings behind, and filed a lawsuit because we had no other recourse
since the builder and insurance companies were of no help. We are
currently living in a rental. Our home was sold in a short sale in
November 2010. We lost $400,000 in equity. This was a major investment
for us and through no fault of our own, we've lost everything. Selling
the home was in our best interest and that of the mortgage company.
Hanging on to a home you can't live in with forbearance on your
mortgage, only keeps increasing your debt to the mortgage company. The
increasing debt has caused many families to file bankruptcy. We are
glad that we were able to sell. Had we foreclosed, the mortgage company
would have been stuck with a home in poor, uninhabitable condition. The
short sale has caused our credit to be hit and it will be affected for
many years. New rules for the underwriting of mortgages and loans need
to be updated to make provisions for homeowners that were victims of
Senator Pryor. Thank you, Senator Warner.
In the interest of time, I'll dispense with the longer
introductions. And I mentioned our four witnesses already. So,
why don't we just dive into this?
STATEMENT OF NEAL S. COHEN, OFFICE OF EDUCATION, GLOBAL
OUTREACH, AND SMALL BUSINESS OMBUDSMAN, U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT
Mr. Cohen. Thank you. Good morning, Chairman Pryor, Senator
Wicker, Senator Warner, and members of the Subcommittee on
Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance.
My name is Neal Cohen, and I currently serve as the Small
Business Ombudsman at the United States Consumer Product Safety
Commission in our new Office of Education, and Global Outreach,
and Small Business Ombudsman. Prior to that, I served in the
Office of General Consul as the lead trial attorney on matters
of problem drywall, and I continue to advise the drywall team
on those matters.
I'm pleased to be here today to discuss the CPSC's
investigation into problem drywall, as well as to lay out the
steps that the Commission has taken to try to assist these
homeowners that have been impacted by problem drywall.
Before I begin, I have two important notes: First, the
testimony that I give today is my own. It has not been reviewed
or approved by the Commission; it may not reflect their views.
Second, on a more personal note and in line with the opening
statements, the members of the staff and the Commission want to
recognize Ms. Brincku and Ms. Stevens and Mr. Bailey, and other
homeowners who are here and have been affected by this. We
share the sense of frustration, and we recognize the incredible
hardship this has taken on your families.
As a government regulatory enforcement agency, however, we
must be, and we have been throughout this investigation, guided
by the science and by our statute in trying to determine
whether the problem drywall represents a health or safety
hazard. That's exactly how we conducted our investigation.
In January 2009, we began to look into these reports of
noxious odors, corrosion of metal items, and complaints of
upper airway irritation in these homeowners.
The principles in our plan, which have been in place from
the earliest parts of this investigation--I'd like to set out
the paradigm of how we've conducted this.
First what we did was, we analyzed the suspected source of
the emissions, the drywall, in a controlled chamber setting so
that we could see exactly what chemicals were being emitted
from that drywall in a controlled setting.
Second, we conducted indoor air testing on homes that were
built or remediated with problem drywall to see what emissions
were happening on the actual level of a homeowner's home that
they were experiencing in their personal lives.
Third, we took corroded household components that had been
exposed to the same conditions over those years of
installation, and analyzed to see whether or not there were
potential safety hazards that had developed over that time.
And fourth, we looked toward the future and we took new
household components, and we placed them in an accelerated
aging corrosive environment in order to simulate long-term
corrosion, and to also analyze whether there would be potential
health or safety hazards over a longer term of up to 40 years.
To do so, we engaged our Nation's top laboratories and
scientists, and we relied upon a rigorous process that was
methodical; it was scientifically and legally defensible, and
informed each of the subsequent studies.
Where necessary, we did additional studies, such as the one
on domestic drywall, as well.
Unfortunately, the results of our studies have not
permitted us to make a health or safety finding that would
enable us to compel a manufacturer to recall this product.
In terms of the safety, we observed no significant declines
in performance, and certainly, no safety hazards were observed
in any of the experiments that we conducted.
In terms of health, we used advanced techniques to measure
the concentrations of chemicals that were found in these
homeowners' homes. These concentrations were below the levels
where health effects have been reported in the peer-reviewed
Now, although those concentration levels did not permit us
to make a health finding, it is possible that the health
effects may occur when consumers are exposed to multiple
chemicals in this complex setting. The study of that is
incredibly complex, and we look forward to the CDC's review of
their health consultation to help inform us on those effects.
Throughout the case, we have continually examined our legal
options under the Consumer Product Safety Act. Unfortunately,
based on the evidence, we have not been able to undertake a
case. We have monitored and observed the private litigants in
State and Federal court, and note that primarily economic
case--those cases of economic losses--are proceeding, and will
likely provide a substantial amount of relief for a set of the
homeowners, though certainly not for all the homeowners.
We've worked with the Gypsum Association and the ASTM
International to make sure that voluntary standards are in
place so that this would never repeat itself, and that if such
an occurrence were, we would be able to track and monitor the
situation better this time.
And throughout all of this, we have applied continual
pressure on the Chinese manufacturers to come to the
negotiation table to stand behind their product, and to make
American consumers whole. Unfortunately, those efforts at all
levels of government have not yielded results yet.
That concludes my oral statement, and I would be pleased to
take any questions the subcommittee may have. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Cohen follows:]
Prepared Statement of Neal S. Cohen, Office of Education, Global
Outreach, and Small Business Ombudsman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Good morning, Chairman Pryor, Senator Wicker, and members of the
Committee. My name is Neal Cohen, and I currently serve as the Small
Business Ombudsman in the Office of Education, Global Outreach, and
Small Business Ombudsman at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
(CPSC). Prior to assuming the Small Business Ombudsman position, I
worked in the Office of General Counsel where I served as the lead
attorney on the CPSC's Drywall Team. In my current position, I continue
to work with the Drywall Team on legal issues.
I am pleased to be here today to discuss the CPSC's investigation
into problem drywall. Before I begin, I would note that the testimony
that I will give this morning is mine, has not been reviewed or
approved by the Commission, and may not necessarily represent the views
of the Commission.
CPSC began looking into reports of noxious odors, and corrosion of
metal items inside of homes, especially air conditioner coils, and
complaints of short term upper respiratory irritation in late January
2009. To date, the CPSC has received approximately 3,921 reports from
residents of 43 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and
Puerto Rico who believe corrosion of certain metal components in their
homes or health effects are related to problem drywall. After analysis
of these reports and other data regarding imports of potentially
problematic drywall from the People's Republic of China, CPSC staff
believe there may be as many as 8,200 U.S. homes containing at least
some problem drywall.
In our first report to Congress, in July 2009, we outlined what we
then described as ``a multi-pronged, concurrent approach . . . to
include import investigations, field measurements in the affected
homes, chamber studies to assess the possible health risks and
corrosion to electrical, gas, and fire safety systems.'' In this
testimony, I hope to outline the science-based investigation undertaken
by CPSC and our agency partners, as well as our efforts to provide
assistance to homeowners impacted by problem drywall.
II. CPSC's Scientific Investigation of Problem Drywall
The principles in our strategic investigation plan, in place by
June 2009, have been followed by CPSC staff throughout this
investigation. Where scientific findings and the compliance
investigation indicated a need for additional information, staff added
multiple distinct, standalone studies to address those needs.
For more than two years, CPSC has worked with our interagency
partners, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (collectively
the ``Federal Interagency Task Force on Problem Drywall'' or ``Task
Force'') and has spent more than $6 million dollars from its general
operating fund to conduct this investigation.
Briefly, I would like explain the paradigm we employed; it is one
that is reliably used in scientific investigations:
1. Analyze the suspected source of the emissions, the drywall,
in isolation to see what chemicals the source is emitting in a
2. Conduct indoor air testing in homes built or renovated with
the suspected source of the emissions;
3. Test corroded household components that have been exposed to
the emissions; and
4. Expose new metal household components in an accelerated
aging corrosive environment to simulate long-term corrosion and
analyze for potential safety hazards.
CPSC and our partners also engaged our Nation's top laboratories--
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL), Sandia National
Laboratories (Sandia), the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)--in addition
to a well-regarded private company, Environmental Health & Engineering
This scientific paradigm--executed by these top laboratories and
scientists--was methodical and iterative, with each step informing the
next in the investigation. This rigorous process ensured that the
Commission's investigation was based upon the best, quality-controlled
and quality-assured results, each result informing the design and
conduct of subsequent studies.
CPSC also shared the urgency felt by the homeowners, and we had to
balance that sense of urgency with the exercise of caution to make
certain that all scientific studies concerning the effects of the
problem drywall were credible and defensible. To that end, in a
somewhat unprecedented move in a CPSC-compliance investigation, we were
transparent and posted all scientific investigations publicly on
www.drywallresponse.gov, including the underlying raw data. We did so
because we recognized the homeowners' need to understand what was going
on in their home environments, because we were confident that our
science was of the highest caliber and should be held up to public
scrutiny, and because we felt that the public was entitled to make use
of the information. Wherever feasible, and without jeopardizing the
scientific process, investigations were conducted in parallel to
increase our ability to deliver sound scientific results to the public
in the timeliest manner.
A. Efforts to Diagnose and Pinpoint Critical Characteristics of Problem
In July 2009, CPSC staff contracted with EH&E to study gases
present and corrosion effects within homes where problem drywall was
installed. This was consistent with our investigatory paradigm to
conduct indoor air testing in homes with the suspected source of the
emissions. The 51-home indoor-air study conducted by EH&E was released
in November 2009, and allowed the development of certain corroborating
factors forming the core of the Identification Guidance, building upon
earlier work conducted by the EPA at the CPSC's request to identify
chemicals present in certain drywall samples. The 51-home study also
informed CPSC staff about low levels of certain sulfur gases and other
compounds present in the homes.
While the 51-home study was being conducted, CPSC also worked
closely with LBNL, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, to conduct
advanced chamber emission studies to determine the types and amounts of
gases emitted by certain drywall in controlled laboratory conditions.
The chamber emission studies represented another important cornerstone
of our investigatory paradigm. Those studies analyzed the drywall
samples in question in isolation in order to capture which chemicals
the samples were emitting in a controlled environment, apart from
possible confounding sources in the home.
We released LBNL's initial results in November 2009 and March 2010,
with the final report on the first round of testing issued in January
2011. Importantly, the findings from the chamber studies enabled CPSC
to definitively identify those chemicals being emitted directly from
the drywall, apart from the other confounding factors in the home. This
work demonstrated the conclusive link between certain drywall and the
corrosive emissions of hydrogen sulfide and other reactive sulfur
gases. It also demonstrated that some, but not all, Chinese drywall
emits hydrogen sulfide and other reactive sulfur gases at much more
elevated rates compared to other Chinese and North American drywall.
CPSC staff knew that hydrogen sulfide corrodes copper and silver to
produce the type of corrosion seen on those metals in affected homes.
However, it was not until this work was completed that we could
positively identify the problem drywall itself as the source of that
hydrogen sulfide. The levels of reactive sulfur gases, specifically
hydrogen sulfide, emitted from the drywall also informed our
investigation into potential fire or electrical safety risks. This
determination that certain drywall does in fact emit elevated levels of
hydrogen sulfide and other reactive gasses also enabled CPSC and HUD to
develop Identification Guidance and Remediation Guidance based on the
common sense approach of removing the source of these emissions.
In January 2010, the CPSC and HUD issued Identification Guidance
for homes affected by problem drywall. This Identification Guidance,
which was updated in August 2010, was very important for potentially
affected homeowners as it provided some common, scientific
characteristics for homeowners to use in determining whether a specific
dwelling contained problem drywall.
Remediation Guidance was first issued in April 2010 by the CPSC and
HUD. In its first iteration, the Remediation Guidance was extra
cautious in its approach to consumer's health and safety until the
results of our scientific investigatory plan became available,
including precautionary removal of certain building materials. As the
results of the scientific investigation became available, we updated
the Remediation Guidance in March 2011 and again in September 2011 to
provide consumers with a safe and more cost-effective approach to
In February 2010, we held a closed meeting with our staff, staff
from our Federal Task Force Partner agencies, including the CDC, our
private contractor, and scientists from the leading national
laboratories that conducted many of our studies. CPSC staff reviewed
the strategic plan that we had set in motion and the preliminary
results received to date. There was broad agreement amongst the
attendees that CPSC staff had set forth a clearly defined,
scientifically defensible plan and one which could also provide the
basis for a solid legal case in the event one was warranted.
In the spring and summer of 2010, the CPSC worked with Sandia to
design and execute experiments, detailed further below, that would
accelerate the aging processes on electrical and fire safety components
to simulate the effects of decades of exposure to the types of
corrosion exhibited in problem drywall houses.
While we worked with Sandia, we also conducted additional studies
to refine how we characterized the problem drywall and to address other
concerns that had arisen including the concern regarding the
possibility that sulfur reducing microbiological elements may have been
a potential root cause of the emissions. In March 2010, the CPSC, in
conjunction with EH&E, released a report on a microbiological
assessment of a limited number of drywall samples. No difference was
found in the presence or absence of sulfur-reducing bacteria between
imported Chinese drywall and U.S. domestic drywall tested, including
those Chinese samples found by LBNL to have some of the highest
reactive sulfur gas emissions in the chamber tests.
In May 2011, the CPSC, in conjunction with EH&E, released a
longitudinal study of the temporal effects of seasonality and elapsed
time on the gaseous emissions and rate of corrosion formation in
problem drywall and control homes. This limited study of six homes
found that emissions increased during periods of elevated heat and
humidity and were markedly reduced in cooler and drier periods.
In June 2010, the CPSC, contracting with EH&E, released a study
titled Identification of Problem Drywall: Source Markers and Detection
Methods. This study confirmed the association between elemental sulfur
and the characteristic corrosion associated with problem drywall, and
it also provided new information indicating that strontium (when used
alone as a marker) possibly could lead to misidentification of problem
In September 2011, LBNL completed a second round of emissions
studies focusing on the effects of heat, humidity, and surface
treatments like paint, upon the emissions rates of the problem drywall.
The additional testing found that emissions increase with elevated
temperature and humidity. Importantly, however, the testing also found
that the emissions actually decreased significantly over time for the
samples, compared to when they had been tested during the first round
of testing in 2009-2010. Importantly, all of our modeling and
accelerated aging had been based on a worst-case assumption that these
levels do not decrease over time.
Also, in September 2011, the CPSC, through an interagency agreement
with USGS, conducted additional microbiological assessments of drywall
samples and gypsum rocks from relevant mines. Throughout the
investigation, there had been many claims of sulfur reducing bacteria
actively converting the gypsum in drywall into corrosive sulfur gases.
Like the prior EH&E study, the USGS study found no evidence indicating
the presence of active bacteria of these types.
In sum, the analysis of chemical content and chemical emissions
from problem drywall determined that certain brands of drywall produced
around the year 2005-2006 contain elevated levels of elemental sulfur
(octahedral sulfur, S8) and have elevated emission factors
for hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and other reactive sulfur gases
known to corrode copper and silver. It also was found that over time,
the emission rates for these reactive sulfur gases decreased and that
increases and decreases in emission rates corresponded to increases and
decreases in temperature and humidity.
B. Potential Health Impacts of Problem Drywall
The report on the 51-home study included discussion of health
impacts for the compounds found in the home environment. In analyzing
the results in that study, CPSC staff relied on the actual measurements
of reactive gases taken in the 51-home study as the best approximation
of the levels of gases to which homeowners may have been exposed.
However, the concentrations of individual chemicals found in the homes
were below levels where health effects have been reported in the
toxicology literature and did not provide the CPSC with enough evidence
to determine that a substantial or imminent product hazard or
significant injury or illness occurs due to problem drywall.
Although those concentration levels did not permit the CPSC to make
a health or safety finding, it is possible that health effects might
occur when consumers are exposed to combinations of chemicals, as found
in all indoor environments. The study of health effects related to
exposures to chemical mixtures is scientifically complex due to the
interactions between and amongst chemicals, as well as the fact that
responses to chemical exposures can vary tremendously from person to
person. Much more study and analysis--beyond the current staff and
monetary resources of the CPSC--would be necessary to develop the
evidence necessary to conclusively establish the health case.
CPSC staff also used mathematical modeling to predict possible
exposures that might result from the reactive sulfur compound emissions
measured in the LBNL chamber testing. As with most modeling exercises,
this undertaking was complicated by the many assumptions that had to be
made about some of the environmental conditions and interactions
between chemicals that were occurring in the homes.
In light of staff and resource constraints, the CPSC formally
requested that the CDC consider conducting a long-term health study on
the effects of problem drywall. In making the request, CPSC staff felt
that such a study or series of studies by the CDC could seek to address
some of the deficiencies in the data outlined above. In January 2011,
the CDC indicated that it had ``carefully considered'' a long-term
health effects study and concluded that ``the best scientific evidence
available to [CDC] today does not support'' such a study. While CPSC
staff hoped the available scientific evidence would allow the CDC to
conduct a long-term health effects study, CPSC staff was encouraged to
learn that CDC staff took the time to carefully consider the merits of
such a study before deciding not to proceed.
In February 2011, CDC staff requested that the CPSC staff provide
all information on the addresses and reported health effects associated
with problem drywall homes so that the CDC could map the scope and
consider the potential health effects. In response to that request,
CPSC staff provided the requested information to the CDC to assist in
their evaluation of the potential health effects of problem drywall. It
is the understanding of CPSC staff that CDC work continues on this
health consultation project, and CPSC staff looks forward to reviewing
the results when that project is complete.
C. Examination of Any Potential Fire or Electrical Safety Implications
of Problem Drywall
In an effort to determine whether problem drywall presented any
fire or electrical safety risks that could be quantified as presenting
a serious safety hazard, the CPSC also hired Sandia and NIST to conduct
engineering studies of the effects of corrosion on electrical and fire
Sandia subjected samples to accelerated aging processes to simulate
the effects of decades of exposure to the types of corrosion exhibited
in problem drywall houses on components, including electrical wiring,
receptacles, switches, plus smoke alarms, fire suppression sprinkler
systems, and gas service piping. Sandia also conducted engineering
analyses of the electrical systems that were aged in these conditions,
as well as other electrical components harvested from affected homes.
Sandia provided the exposed fire safety system samples to NIST to
complete similar engineering analyses of those systems.
The CPSC's study, conducted with Sandia, on the impact of
accelerated corrosion on electrical components, which simulated 40
years of corrosion, was completed in March 2011. The results of the
Sandia study led the Task Force to modify the Remediation Guidance and
to remove the earlier recommendation that all electrical wiring be
removed. This study found visual evidence of corrosion but found that
the corrosion did not significantly reduce the overall cross section of
copper nor did it decrease the wire's ability to carry its rated
current. No acute or long-term safety events such as smoking or fire
were observed during the course of the experiment.
In September 2011, the CPSC, working with NIST, released a series
of staff reports on the effects of problem drywall and related
corrosion on fire safety systems and natural gas service piping.
The first report was a study on the effects of simulated 10 years
of corrosion of the type exhibited in problem drywall homes on a
variety of smoke alarms. NIST also studied smoke alarms collected from
homes where they had been exposed to the emissions from problem
drywall. There were small but significant changes to performance in
some cases, although each set of the smoke alarms continued to meet
applicable safety standards. In any case, the CPSC recommends
replacement of smoke alarms every 10 years and carbon monoxide alarms
after their limited lifespan, typically every five to seven years.
Therefore, as part of remediation, it is recommended that all smoke
alarms and carbon monoxide alarms be replaced because they have a
limited life span and cost little to replace.
The second report was a study on the effects of simulated 20 years
of corrosion of the type exhibited in problem drywall homes on a
variety of fire sprinkler heads. In addition, NIST studied fire
sprinkler heads collected from homes where they had been exposed to the
emissions from problem drywall. Fire sprinkler heads showed small
effects due to accelerated corrosion, but were generally within
accepted industry standards.\1\ Fire suppression sprinkler systems are
present only in a very small fraction of problem-drywall homes.
\1\ A single fusible-type fire sprinkler head that had been exposed
to accelerated corrosion did not activate when tested. Out of an
abundance of caution, CPSC staff recommend the replacement of fusible-
type fire sprinkler heads as part of remediation. However, we note that
this type of sprinkler head is generally found in commercial, rather
than residential, applications and that the sole failure could not be
causally linked to the problem drywall at this time.
The third report was a study on the effects of problem drywall
emissions on gas service piping. The CPSC collected gas service pipes
from homes where they had been exposed to the emissions from problem
drywall. NIST also studied copper alloys commonly employed in the
manufacturing of gas service piping after exposure to the simulated
corrosion chamber to achieve 40 years of simulated exposure. The
results showed that corrosion of gas service piping was uniform and
minimal compared to the thickness of pipes. No acute or long-term
safety events were observed during the course of the experiment. Gas
service pipes are present only in a very small fraction of problem-
D. Additional Targeted Scientific Studies
Additional studies were conducted for targeted investigations on an
as-needed basis as new issues emerged during the overall investigation,
including (A) investigating the limited claims of problems due to
domestic drywall in homes, (B) investigating the indoor environments in
two homes at Fort Bragg where multiple infant deaths had been reported
and (C) investigating deaths reportedly related to problem drywall.
1. Domestic Drywall Study
While the majority of the complaints to the CPSC have been for
imported drywall, approximately one to two percent of the total
reported incidents came from homeowners who have alleged that corrosion
and other problems have resulted from the installation of domestic,
problem drywall. In response, CPSC staff conducted in-depth
investigations (IDIs) on a number of these homes and found that some
appeared to have Chinese drywall and others did not appear to have the
characteristic problems associated with problem drywall.
In addition, the CPSC undertook a limited study on 11 homes
believed to best represent the types of reports we had received. In
April 2011, the CPSC released a study on these 11 homes for which the
presence of problem domestic drywall could not be ruled out, and the
results were inconclusive. Some of the homes in the study were found to
have characteristics of problem drywall, but the actual country of
origin could not be determined conclusively for all of the drywall in
those homes. Other homes in the study exhibited corrosive
characteristics that were different than those that the CPSC had
observed in homes with imported, problem drywall. However, none of the
findings resulted in the need to change the Task Force's
recommendations in the identification or remediation guidance
2. Investigation Into Deaths at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina
The CPSC provided substantial support to the U.S. Army in the
Army's investigation into deaths at Ft. Bragg. CPSC conducted a
comprehensive and independent investigation into the indoor
environments in two homes at Fort Bragg where multiple infant deaths
had been reported. The results of our study, released on February 10,
2011, concluded that problem drywall was not present in the homes. For
the benefit of the Army, our contractor conducted additional
environmental testing while in the homes and did not find an
environmental cause of these tragedies. Somewhat elevated levels of two
pesticides, permethrin and cypermethrin, were found in one of the
homes, and the Army is continuing to investigate these pesticide issues
on its own. Both of these pesticides are approved by the EPA under the
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for use
inside of homes. The Army paid to have EH&E continue to investigate the
slightly elevated pesticide levels.
3. Investigation of Deaths Reportedly Related to Problem Drywall
On January 31, 2011, the CPSC released the CDC's review of state
medical examiners' investigations into reports of deaths in homes
alleged to contain problem drywall. The report found no connection
between the 11 deaths and the drywall; instead it found several other
contributing factors that specifically included pre-existing health
conditions. CPSC staff also found no connection between the subject
homes and problem drywall in our investigation.
III. CPSC and Private Efforts to Assist Impacted Homeowners
A. Problem Drywall Identification and Remediation Guidance
As discussed earlier, Identification Guidance for homes affected by
problem drywall was first issued in January 2010, and updated in August
2010. Remediation Guidance was issued in April 2010 and updated in
March 2011 and again in September 2011.
The updated documents clarify that the Remediation Guidance
represents an effective protocol on which a homeowner may rely to make
appropriate decisions about remediating their home comprehensively. The
current guidance documents are comprehensive and integrate the results
of all scientific studies completed as part of this investigation.
B. Development of Standards for Drywall Labeling and Content
During the course of the investigation, one substantial impediment
encountered by CPSC staff was the lack of uniform labeling on both
domestic and foreign drywall. The bulk of problem drywall examined by
staff contained no marking detailing manufacturer, brand, or country of
origin. This substantially hindered CPSC staff efforts to determine the
exact source of problem drywall, as well as the scope of the problem.
In an effort to prevent similar problems in the future, CPSC staff
worked with ASTM International on a new gypsum board voluntary labeling
standard that would require manufacturer name and country of original
on the product. We are pleased to note that, as a result of these
efforts, ASTM recently approved a revision to the C1264 gypsum board
The revised C1264 standard, which was effective as of last month,
requires that manufacturers place either names or unique codes
identifying the name of the manufacturing company, facility and
production line, date and time of manufacture, and country of origin on
each sheet of finished gypsum products. The revised standard also
specifies that this identifying information be reproduced at regular
intervals on each sheet of finished gypsum products. CPSC staff believe
that this voluntary labeling standard should help builders and
consumers better understand the origin and source of gypsum products in
CPSC staff also continue to work with ASTM and other industry
associations on standards regarding gypsum board content. That work is
currently ongoing, and we hope for further progress on that voluntary
standard in the near future.
C. The Multi-District Drywall Litigation
Some private parties impacted by problem drywall are engaged in
extensive Federal and state litigation, which has largely been
consolidated in the Federal Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products
Liability Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of
Louisiana.\2\ The CPSC has never been a party to this litigation,
although Commission staff has tracked the progress of the case through
discussions with parties and stakeholders. Despite the lack of CPSC's
formal involvement in the case, the agency's scientific findings have
been relied upon universally by the various parties as representing a
credible and serious effort to understand and explain the issues
associated with problem drywall.
\2\ MDL 2047, Chinese Manufactured Drywall Products Liability
Unlike a potential CPSC recall, which would require the CPSC to
demonstrate health or safety hazards satisfying the high burdens set
forth in CPSC's controlling statutes (e.g., that the drywall presents
an imminent hazard or substantial risk of serious injury or death), the
private civil cases are primarily economic in nature and need only
prove, for example, that the drywall was not fit for its originally
intended purpose. As part of this process, one of the potentially
responsible producers of problem Chinese drywall, Knauf Plasterboard
(Tianjin), announced a pilot settlement on October 14, 2010. In that
pilot settlement, Knauf and certain American companies in the
distribution chain of commerce, agreed to voluntarily remediate 300
homes in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi containing its
drywall. Knauf's remediation protocols for this pilot program conform
to the CPSC's interim remediation guidance.
During the week of February 14, 2011, Knauf's contractor broke
ground on the first such remediation project. The Court and all parties
have also sought to broaden the number of homes covered in this pilot
settlement beyond the original 300 homes. Some private estimates
indicate that Knauf manufactured drywall may be present in 40 to 45
percent of all homes impacted by problem drywall. In addition, almost
all impacted homes in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi contain
drywall manufactured by Knauf.
The MDL Court has also directed the parties in the case to proceed
with discovery and depositions, which are presently underway,
concerning certain other Chinese manufacturers and certain American
companies in the supply chain. The MDL Court represents a credible
process addressing claims of economic loss from the plaintiffs, and it
will proceed and likely provide a substantial level of relief to a
number of homeowners with problem drywall manufactured by Knauf (and
possibly a few other companies). It is, however, unlikely to cover all
homeowners impacted by problem drywall.
D. CPSC Efforts to Seek Compensation from Potentially Responsible
Manufacturers Outside of the MDL Case
Throughout the problem drywall investigation, the CPSC has
continually engaged with our counterpart agency in China, the General
Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine
(AQSIQ), to share information and arrange a meeting between the CPSC
and Chinese manufacturers. Specifically, CPSC personnel have engaged in
the following face-to-face meetings (in addition to numerous
videoconferences and conference calls) with high-level AQSIQ personnel
to seek resolution to the problem drywall issue:
August 2009. CPSC staff traveled to China to investigate the
possible origin of problem drywall and to meet with AQSIQ staff
regarding the issue.
Second Trilateral U.S.-EU-China Consumer Product Safety
Summit, October 25-26, 2010, Shanghai, China. CPSC Chairman
Inez M. Tenenbaum personally discussed the issue with AQSIQ
Minister Zhi Shuping and urged the Chinese Government to
facilitate a ``fair and just'' resolution to the issue.
The Third Bilateral United States--China Consumer Product
Safety Summit, held in Washington, DC on October 13-14, 2011.
At this meeting, the Chairman again publically called on the
Chinese Government to come to the table, resolve this issue and
provide relief to impacted homeowners.
To date, the CPSC has used all of the resources available to it,
including high-level international contacts by the Chairman and other
international diplomatic efforts with the U.S. Departments of State and
Commerce to push this item to the front of the agenda with the Chinese
government. Throughout many months of diplomatic efforts, the Chinese
manufacturers have continued to signal their reluctance to meet with
us. The principal Chinese trade associations have stated that their
members are being singled out, and refuse to accept CPSC assurances
that all responsible parties would be included in a possible
* * * * *
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for the opportunity to testify
regarding the CPSC's scientific investigation of problem drywall, as
well as efforts to assist impacted homeowners. I would be happy to
answer any questions at this time.
Senator Pryor. Thank you. And thank you for staying in the
STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER J. PORTIER, Ph.D., DIRECTOR,
NATIONAL CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, CENTERS
FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION AND AGENCY
FOR TOXIC SUBSTANCES AND DISEASE REGISTRY,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Dr. Portier. Thank you, and good morning, Senator Pryor,
Senator Wicker and Senator Warner. Thank you for the
opportunity to be here today.
I am Chris Portier, the Director of the National Center for
Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, and the Director of the Agency for Toxic Substances
and Disease Registry.
The CDC and ATSDR are concerned for the health and safety
of people who have been living with, or exposed to, sulphur
compounds emitted from contaminated drywall.
My testimony today will focus on three aspects of CDC/ATSDR
support of the CPSC response on this issue: Number one, CDC/
ATSDR's current knowledge and recommendation on human health
effects from exposure to sulphur compounds emitted from
contaminated drywall; number two, our role and the efforts to
date in the coordinated Federal response on contaminated
drywall; number three, our public health consultation underway
to learn more about potential health effects from exposure to
sulphur compounds emitted from contaminated drywall.
Indoor air tests of homes with contaminated drywall
conducted on behalf of the CPSC, the lead Federal agency in the
investigation of contaminated drywall, found low levels of
reactive sulphur gasses, including hydrogen sulphide and
carbonyl sulphate. This is a concern, because at some
concentrations, exposure to sulphur gasses may result in eye,
nose and throat irritation, and exacerbation of respiratory
problems such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease. These same symptoms are consistent with what has been
reported. However, the levels measured inside of homes with
contaminated drywall were below levels linked to human health
effects as demonstrated in the scientific literature. Still, it
is possible some people are more sensitive than others to
CDC/ATSDR believes that preventing continued exposure is
the best method to address contaminated drywall. We support the
CPSC and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's
recommendations for remediation.
In support of CPSC's leadership of the Federal response to
concerns on the contaminated drywall, CDC/ATSDR has put
significant effort into helping residents understand the
potential health implications through the following activities:
We worked with poison control centers and state health
departments to develop and share guidance to the public and
healthcare providers. We supported Federal response efforts
with our extensive network of state health and environmental
agencies. This has helped us to understand the types of health
complaints being reported, to ensure that up to date and
accurate information was rapidly shared, and to ensure that
coordination among the involved Federal and state agencies and
other partners is effective.
We assisted the EPA and the Florida Department of Health in
developing a sampling plan for homes with and without
contaminated drywall, and in interpreting results. We engaged
our partners to develop precautionary health guidance documents
for families and their physicians. And we coordinated with
states to review 11 deaths reported to the CPSC.
We are currently modeling indoor air levels of sulphur gas
compounds to estimate potential exposure. These estimates will
then be used to calculate the risks of human health effects in
homes with contaminated drywall. Results should be available in
spring of 2012.
This consultation activity involves three main phases:
First, we've engaged experts at Georgia Institute of Technology
to model indoor air concentrations. They will be using data
that measured sulphur gasses emitted by contaminated drywall in
a controlled laboratory setting. These data were collected by
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on behalf of CPSC.
In the second phase, NCEH/ATSDR scientists will use these
estimates to simulate a range of plausible human exposures to
several drywall-related sulphur compounds. Finally, our
scientists will determine if the levels of exposure could
result in possible short term and long term health effects, and
what these outcomes might be. This will be based upon health
information summarized in existing ATSDR toxicological
profiles, EPA guidance values, and then evaluations of
scientific literature. This is one of the tox profiles. This is
for hydrogen sulfide gas.
In conclusion, CDC/ATSDR recognizes the serious concerns of
people living in homes and exposed to contaminated drywall. We
are committed to providing appropriate and necessary
information to help answer questions related to health effects
from contaminated drywall.
Thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony to
you today, and I would be happy to answer any of your
[The prepared statement of Mr. Cohen follows:]
Prepared Statement of Christopher J. Portier, Ph.D., Director, National
Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
``Health Issues Associated with Contaminated Drywall''
Good morning Chairman Pryor, Ranking Member Toomey, and other
distinguished members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the
opportunity to be here today. I am Dr. Christopher Portier, Director of
the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) at the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Director of the Agency for
Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
The CDC and ATSDR are concerned for the health and safety of people
who have been living with or exposed to sulfur compounds emitted from
contaminated drywall used in the construction or renovation of their
homes. My testimony today will focus on three aspects of CDC/ATSDR's
support of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) response to
CDC/ATSDR's current knowledge and recommendation on human
health effects from exposure to sulfur compounds emitted from
CDC/ATSDR's role and efforts to date in the coordinated
Federal response to contaminated drywall; and
CDC/ATSDR's public health consultation underway to learn
more about potential health effects from exposure to sulfur
compounds emitted from contaminated drywall.
CDC/ATSDR's Current Knowledge and Recommendation on Human Health
Effects from Exposure to Sulfur Compounds Emitted from
Indoor air tests of homes with contaminated drywall conducted by
Environmental Health & Engineering Inc. (EH&E) on behalf of the CPSC,
the lead Federal agency in the investigation of contaminated drywall,
found low levels of reactive sulfur gases, including hydrogen sulfide
and carbonyl sulfide.
This is a concern because at some concentrations, exposure to
sulfur gases may result in eye, nose, and throat irritation and
exacerbation of respiratory problems such as asthma or chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These same symptoms are
consistent with what has been reported. However, the levels measured
inside of homes with contaminated drywall were below levels linked to
human health effects as demonstrated in the scientific literature. Some
people are more sensitive than others to chemical exposures; an
exposure that causes no problems for one person can make a different
person uncomfortable or sick. There are currently no tests available
that would identify people in the general public who are more
susceptible to exposure to the sulfur compounds emitted from
With respect to public health, CDC/ATSDR believes that preventing
continued exposure to reactive sulfur gases is the best method to
address problem drywall. We support the CPSC and U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recommendations for remediation
that ``consumers replace all problem drywall; smoke and carbon monoxide
(CO) alarms; electrical distribution components, including receptacles,
switches and circuit breakers, but not necessarily wiring; and fusible-
type fire sprinkler heads.''
Recommendations from the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty
Units (PEHSU), a CDC/ATSDR partner, include eliminating, if possible,
or reducing exposure through remediation and ventilation; minimizing
aggravating environmental factors such as secondhand tobacco smoke and
harsh cleaners; monitoring mental health; seeking medical specialty
care; and seeking guidance on medical monitoring from a health care
CDC/ATSDR's Role and Efforts to Date in the Coordinated Federal
Response to Contaminated Drywall
Since 2009, CDC/ATSDR has provided public health expertise in
support of the CPSC's leadership of the Federal response to concerns
with contaminated drywall. As part of this response, CDC/ATSDR
collaborated with the CPSC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), HUD, the Florida Department of Health (FLDOH), the Louisiana
Department of Health and Hospitals, the Virginia Department of Health,
the Association of Occupational and Environmental Health Clinics
(AOEC), and other state and local health and environmental agencies to
assess possible health implications from living in a home with
CDC/ATSDR has put significant effort into helping residents
understand the potential health implications associated with exposure
to sulfur compounds emitted from contaminated drywall.
To date, we have conducted the following activities:
CDC/ATSDR worked with poison control centers and state
health departments to develop and share health guidance. This
guidance came in the form of easy-to-read fact sheets to help
the public understand health and safety issues and
recommendations on how to protect themselves. We provided
guidance to health care providers who may be evaluating
patients living in homes with contaminated drywall;
CDC/ATSDR supported Federal response efforts with our
extensive network of state health and environmental agencies to
understand the types of health complaints being reported, to
ensure that up-to-date and accurate information and approaches
were rapidly shared, and to ensure that coordination among the
involved Federal and state agencies and other partners is
CDC/ATSDR assisted the EPA and the FLDOH in developing the
sampling plan for homes with and without contaminated drywall
and in interpreting the results;
CDC/ATSDR engaged our partners AOEC and PEHSUs with
specialties in pediatrics, medical toxicology, industrial
hygiene, and occupational environmental medicine. This resulted
in precautionary health guidance document for families and
CDC/ATSDR coordinated with states to review 11 deaths
reported to the CPSC. In the judgments of the state medical
authorities who reviewed these cases, exposure to contaminated
drywall was not believed to be a contributing factor to these
CDC/ATSDR's Public Health Consultation Underway to Learn More about
Potential Human Health Effects from Exposure to Contaminated
CDC/ATSDR's current public health effort is modeling indoor air
levels of sulfur gas compounds to estimate potential exposures. These
estimates will then be used to calculate risks of health effects in
homes with contaminated drywall. Results should be available in spring
2012, and we expect that this work will provide important and
appropriate information to help answer questions related to potential
health effects from contaminated drywall.
The consultation involves three main phases. First, we have engaged
experts at Georgia Institute of Technology to model indoor air
concentrations. They will be using data that measure sulfur gases
coming off of contaminated drywall in a controlled laboratory setting.
These data were collected by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on
behalf of CPSC. In the second phase, CDC/ATSDR scientists will use
these estimates to simulate a range of plausible human exposures to
several drywall-related sulfur compounds. This will include a range of
home types and patterns of air movement in and out of the homes.
Finally, CDC/ATSDR scientists will determine if the levels of exposure
could result in possible adverse health outcomes and, what those
outcomes might be. This will be based upon health information
summarized in existing ATSDR Toxicological Profiles, EPA guidance
values, and in evaluations of recent scientific literature.
In conclusion, CDC/ATSDR recognizes the serious concerns of people
living in homes and exposed to contaminants from problem drywall. We
are committed to providing appropriate and necessary information to
better understand residents' concerns related to health effects.
Thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony to you
today. I would be happy to answer any questions.
Senator Pryor. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM C. SHELTON, DIRECTOR, VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT
OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Shelton. Senator Pryor, Senator Warner, it's a pleasure
to be with you today. Shelton. I'm the Director of the Virginia
Department of Housing and Community Development. We handle a
number of community development and housing issues, but today
my expertise is more in the area of building codes.
What I would like to focus on today is how Virginia has
responded; the things we think we can do at the state level;
and then, perhaps, some of the things that remain undone.
There was a perfect storm--you've already heard the
stories--but the one nuance of difference in Virginia, as
Senator Warner mentioned, all the product that, we believe,
that came into Virginia came through one supplier in
southeastern Virginia in the Hampton Roads area through one
manufacturer in China. Unfortunately, that manufacturer, we
believe, is owned by a Chinese concern, as opposed to the
German company. And this has ramifications longer-term that
become clear when you get to litigation.
The story was unfolding, you know, we were hearing reports,
and we certainly were monitoring this issue. Our first response
in Virginia came in early 2009 as we began to hear more and
more anecdotal evidence of problems. And basically, the first
item was to notify local building officials to be aware of
this, especially in the Hampton Roads region. We believe the
building officials are the front line defense related to
responding to this problem, and notified them to notify all
builders and others that this could be an emerging problem.
Even if we didn't have authority to ban the product, we were
certainly raising awareness.
Governor McDonnell assumed office, and then in early 2010
established a drywall task force made up of homeowners, of,
state agencies, and other affected parties to look at this
issue. And we looked at a number of different items, trying to
outline priorities of how Virginia could response.
There was some state legislation--both proposed and
unsuccessful. Perhaps the most substantive piece that passed
was an issue looking at the issue of disclosure, making sure
that property owners who were owners of these properties and
were transferring them, that there was actual disclosure so
that the problem was not passed on to other property owners
down the road; and there were penalties imposed if that
disclosure did not happen. And that was both for ownership, as
well as rental. And we think that was the best practice.
Perhaps the most important aspect of what we focused on,
though, was this issue of, how would you remediate this
problem? How would you begin to do the building part of it? And
I know that CPSC and others were doing quality research, and we
were very anxious to get the answer, because everyone was stuck
in neutral, if you will, and could not move either direction
without that remediation standard.
We are fortunate in Virginia to have a uniform statewide
building code, and so we used that mechanism working through
the issues with our Board of Housing and Community Development,
and other affected parties, and using the recommendations, the
interim guidance from CPSC, the National Homebuilders
Association, and others who have come forward with a potential
remediation. And then, effective this summer, effective in
August, we did adopt a remediation standard for Virginia that's
built into our building code. So, we have established the
standards by which all properties need to be remediated; we
have required that a building permit be pulled on the property;
that inspections be done; that a testing be done after the
initial demolition to ensure that you got all the product out;
and then, post- construction, that you test again to make sure
that there's no evidence of the gases that are causing the
problem in the homes.
We feel this is the appropriate and responsible way to move
forward. And once concluded, a letter can be given, then, to
the property owner that basically says the property has been
remediated, so that you remove the stigma on the property. This
does not address how to pay for it, but at least gives a
pathway to move forward.
One of the issues is the cost of remediation. If you look
at the various standards, the court case in Louisiana
established a fairly rigorous amount of work, deconstruction
and reconstruction, that have to take place. That worked out to
almost $90 a square foot. The remediation standard that we have
adopted in Virginia, we believe, will be closer to about
somewhere in the $35 to $45, maybe $50 a square foot, depending
on the type of construction, which makes it more affordable,
but yet, would, in fact, then, remediate the property. So, the
difference in pricing, that $86 level would be roughly a
$200,000 expense, as opposed to maybe a $60,000 or $70,000
expense with that $35 to $40 a square foot, which we think is
We have looked at funding mechanisms. The bottom line is
that we have looked at all kinds of debt-oriented kinds of
activities. We don't believe the properties support debt. The
homeowners are upside-down; we've got a housing crisis; those
properties are under water anyway; and the market--and with the
remediation, it's certainly not feasible.
And so, we think that it has to be more of a response
similar to a disaster response. And we would love to work with
the Federal Government on trying to figure out some way to get
the responsible parties to come to the table and help provide
[The prepared statement of Mr. Shelton follows:]
Prepared Statement of William C. Shelton, Director,
Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development
Good morning, my name is Bill Shelton. I am the Director of the
Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The
agency administers a comprehensive set of housing and community
development programs that help create safe, affordable, and prosperous
communities where Virginians can live, work and do business. The agency
is also responsible for the administration of the state's major
building safety regulations, most notably the Uniform Statewide
Building Code (USBC). This latter role led to our involvement in
understanding and responding to some of the serious problems that
resulted from the use of defective drywall in residential construction
during the last decade. I am here today at the invitation of Chairman
Rockefeller to speak about Virginia's experience with defective drywall
Drywall, sometimes referred to as plasterboard or gypsum board, is
one of the most common building materials. Builders use it for walls
and ceilings in home and commercial construction. It consists of a
sandwich panel made of gypsum (hydrated calcium sulfate
[CaSO4.2H2O]) pressed between two
thick sheets of paper. For decades, builders have used drywall as a
safe and economical alternative to traditional lath and plaster.
However, during the latter half of the last decade, owners and
occupants of single-family and condominium units constructed at mid-
decade in Virginia and elsewhere began to report problems with
significant and unexpected levels of corrosion in HVAC, electrical and
plumbing systems, and appliances. Over time, the apparent cause of
these and other problems such as the presence of strong odors
(``burning matches'' or ``rotten eggs'') were traced to excessive
levels of gaseous sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide
(H2S) emitted by specific brands of drywall. While the
offending products were ultimately identified with reasonable
certainty, numerous questions remained. These included:
Determining where and how many residential units were
Preventing the continued use of defective drywall products,
Developing and applying appropriate remediation standards to
eliminate current and future problems,
Providing assurance that homes can be remediated and
Estimating the total and unit costs for remediation
Determining who would pay for property remediation and other
losses incurred by homeowners, contractors, developers and
That the problems of defective drywall appeared when and where they
did was the result of a kind of perfect storm of circumstances, if you
will. These included the need for massive rebuilding in the Gulf Coast
following two very real storms-Katrina and Rita-and the red-hot (some
would say in retrospect ``overheated'') housing market found in many
parts of the country (including Virginia) during the middle of the last
decade. Demand for drywall simply outpaced domestic sources of supply.
American distributers of building materials seeking new sources found
them in half a dozen or more manufacturers based in China. Their
products appeared to be functional equivalents of the familiar domestic
materials. In southeast Virginia, one building materials supplier
received 150,000 sheets from a single Chinese source. Builders used
them to complete projects throughout the region and elsewhere in the
state. This set the stage for the problems that have brought us here
The Problem Emerges
By late 2008, the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission
(CPSC), as well as state and local officials in Virginia and other
southeastern and Gulf States, began receiving complaints about drywall-
related problems. By January 2009, CPSC had received some 1,500
incident reports from 24 states, with the largest numbers attributable
to, in descending order, Florida, Louisiana and Virginia. By the summer
of 2010, data received by Virginia's Department of Health, the Office
of the Attorney General, and DHCD confirmed that at least 250 Virginia
homes were affected; it appeared very likely that the total might
While the number of affected homes was small relative to the
state's 2010 inventory of more than three million occupied housing
units, the consequences for homeowners were anything but small. For
some households, the presence of defective drywall has rendered the
homes uninhabitable. The threat of fire hazards associated with damaged
electrical system components, damaged plumbing and gas piping,
dysfunctional or damaged HVAC systems, damaged appliances and consumer
electronics, nonworking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, actual or
perceived threats to the health of individual family members,
persistent and overwhelming foul odors and other factors all
contributed to individual decisions to vacate properties.
Relocation might relieve the family of the immediate threats to
health and safety, but it could not relieve them of the financial
obligations associated with a house that could no longer be called
home. Although lien holders could offer temporary moratoria, in most
cases to avoid foreclosure and long-term damage to the family's credit,
mortgages still needed to be paid--even as the stigma associated with
defective drywall erased the owner's equity and the property's
marketability. Many of the Virginia homes were large, with values above
regional averages. In some cases, they represented the owner's primary
asset, often the product of years of saving toward the goal of securing
the home of their dreams. In still other cases, owners may have had no
recourse except bankruptcy to stave off even worse financial
consequences for the family.
Owners soon encountered other problems. The underwriting for most
homeowner policies requires that the insured occupy the home. While
limited absences might be permitted and waivers secured in some cases
to deal with unforeseen circumstances, in the end homeowners may face
the loss of insurance coverage. Because mortgages are predicated on the
homeowner maintaining insurance coverage to indemnify the mortgagee in
case of destruction or damage to the property, the loss of insurance
may ultimately lead to termination of the loan even if payments are
Bad as these circumstances were, the affected homeowners were also
caught up in the overall housing market collapse that occurred almost
simultaneously with the discovery of widespread drywall problems. Even
without defective drywall, homeowners in areas experiencing double-
digit declines in property values might have faced the prospect of
going ``underwater'' on their mortgages. With defective drywall present
in the home, that prospect became a virtual certainty. This, of course,
would preclude seeking conventional refinancing or the leveraging of
Thus, homeowners generally had limited recourse to the financial
resources needed to remedy the problem even if there was an agreed-upon
remediation protocol. Some homeowners sought relief from the insurer
covering their properties. Except where a specific policy provision
covered the risk for faulty materials, insurers generally denied such
claims, asserting that the damage to the homeowner was the result of
the use of faulty materials by builders and thus specifically excluded
from coverage. Litigation to overcome this assertion has generally
failed in Virginia state courts and in the Federal court system, once
again leaving the homeowner without the resources needed to address the
Homeowners also brought suit in the Federal courts against the
manufacturers and distributors of the defective materials. This
approach met with limited success. In a noteworthy case brought against
a Chinese manufacturer (Tai-Shan Gypsum Co., Ltd.) in the U.S. District
Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, seven Virginia homeowners
prevailed. In a default judgment, the trial court awarded damages
ranging from $90,000 to more than $441,000. The average award was
almost $373,000. However, the plaintiff families are yet to receive the
proceeds of this case. Litigation, including appeals from this decision
and additional class actions, continues. Within the past week, a
Virginia couple also secured a default judgment against Tai-shan;
however, as in the Louisiana trial, actually collecting the award will
likely be a prolonged and uncertain process.
Litigation in other states has been somewhat more successful. In
Muscogee County (Columbus), Georgia, Lowe's Home Centers, without
admitting wrongdoing, liability or fault, agreed to a settlement of a
state class action suit that resulted in a total of $5.5 million being
available to qualified claimants. In addition, the same Federal court
in Louisiana that heard the seven Virginia plaintiffs has agreed to
settlements with one of the multinational corporations (Knauf
Plasterboard Tianjin Co.) producing drywall in China. It provides
funding for the repair of hundreds of homes in four states (Florida,
Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas). This case does not affect Virginia
claimants directly. It involved products made by a different
manufacturer and one that is not a solely Chinese enterprise as was the
apparent case in Virginia.
The State Response in Virginia
The legal and factual circumstances surrounding defective drywall
claims differ from state to state. Once the nature and the potential
scope of the problem in Virginia became apparent, the legislature and
Executive Branch agencies became actively involved in responding to
defective drywall issues.
Notice to Local Building Officials
As early as 2009, the Division of Building and Fire Regulation at
DHCD, responding to initial reports from the CPSC and other sources,
sent an advisory memorandum to all local building officials, the
parties charged with enforcement of the USBC. This alerted the
officials to the emerging problems associated with certain Chinese-
manufactured drywall products. The memorandum noted the potential for
the corrosion of metals by sulfur compounds and the hazards that such
corrosion presented to occupants from a host of causes including
malfunctioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The advisory noted
that while the CPSC and other agencies were just beginning their
research into the problem, the use of the suspect materials should be
discontinued and that segments of the construction industry be so
Defective Drywall Task Force
In early 2010, as the scope of the problem continued to grow,
Governor Bob McDonnell assembled a drywall task force to learn more
about the problem, hear from homeowners and other affected parties,
determine the numbers of affected properties and consider possible
areas for action at the state level. Task Force meetings and subsequent
town hall events brought together local officials, homeowners, other
affected parties and state agencies with potential roles to play in
responding to the issue. These sessions revealed more fully and
poignantly the extent to which defective drywall had disrupted the
lives of hundreds of Virginians. They also began to outline priority
areas for state action. These included the urgent need to provide
homeowners and contractors with authoritative guidance on appropriate
remediation steps as soon as possible. Participants registered their
concerns about whether potential homebuyers and renters were receiving
proper notice from sellers or landlords when properties contained
defective drywall products were offered for sale or lease. Finally,
homeowners--frustrated by the response of insurers, manufacturers and
the courts-looked to the state to identify funding to support
remediation activities once guidance was in place. This proved to be
the thorniest issue in a time of overall financial stringency.
During its most recent two legislative sessions, Virginia enacted
measures that responded directly to aspects of the defective drywall
problem. Earlier this year, the Governor signed HB 1610 and SB 942 into
law. These bills, which the Virginia Housing Commission recommended,
responded to concerns about the possible lack of disclosure of the
presence of defective drywall in properties offered for sale or lease.
Real estate professionals engaged by sellers and buyers, individual
sellers and landlords with actual knowledge of defective drywall in a
dwelling unit must disclose that fact to prospective buyers or tenants.
Failure to disclose can have real financial and regulatory
consequences. These identical bills went further to establish a
reassessment process and other provisions that localities could use to
grant property tax relief to homes with defective drywall.
Also in 2011, SB 1294 brought defective drywall under the aegis of
the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The law prohibits suppliers,
after March 25, 2011, from selling, offering for sale, or using
defective drywall in the construction, remodeling, or repair of any
residential dwelling in Virginia. This prohibition does not apply to
the sale or offering for sale of buildings or structures in which the
drywall was already in place.
The first legislative attempt to address funding for remediation
took place during the 2010 session. HB 46 created the Virginia
Defective Drywall Correction and Restoration Assistance Fund for
residential property. Loans and grants from the Fund could be used to
pay reasonable and necessary costs for: (i) the remediation of a
contaminated property to remove hazardous substances, hazardous wastes,
or solid wastes, (ii) the stabilization or restoration of such
structures or (iii) the demolition and removal of the existing
structures or other work necessary to remediate or reuse the property.
However, without an actual source of money, and with few prospects for
a direct infusion of state funds given the current fiscal environment,
the Fund remains empty. A key provision of the bill established a
statutory definition of ``defective drywall'' that drew upon the extant
research and findings published by the CPSC.
Other initiatives that the legislature chose, for a variety of
reasons, not to enact during the past two years would have:
Compelled insurers to provide coverage for the damaged
Barred the cancellation of insurance coverage for property
that became vacant due to the presence of defective drywall,
Barred the nonrenewal of insurance coverage or changes in
rate structures based on the presence of defective drywall, and
Required the State Corporation Commission to levy an
assessment against state-regulated property and casualty
insurers to provide financial support for the Defective Drywall
Correction and Restoration Assistance Fund.
During much of 2010, affected parties continued to await
authoritative guidance on the remediation of defective drywall
properties from a variety of sources, including the CPSC. Based on
information developed at CPSC and elsewhere, DHCD, following
consultation with the state's Office of the Attorney General, concluded
that it--or, more accurately, its Board--could act under existing
statutory authority to bar the use of defective drywall products and
provide remediation standards through an amendment to the Uniform
Statewide Building Code.
Following statutory procedures specifically intended to address
defective or deficient building materials, DHCD and its Board conducted
a process to define defective drywall, bar its use within the
Commonwealth, and provide remediation standards that would allow the
safe removal of the offending product and the restoration of property
to a safe condition. With the participation of representatives of the
building industry, the building materials industry, affected homeowners
and other interested parties, the Department developed a proposal that
was ultimately considered and approved for final publication in the
Virginia Register of Regulations on August 29, 2011. The new
Prohibits the use of defective drywall in new construction,
Establishes a remediation standard for the removal of
defective drywall and the rebuilding of buildings affected by
the installation of defective drywall,
Defines defective drywall for the purposes of applying the
interim performance and remediation standards,
Requires a building permit for the remediation of defective
Requires use of the remediation standards when defective
drywall is replaced and clarifies that the local building
official has authority to consider modifications to the
Requires the removal of defective drywall when remediation
is undertaken while permitting non-defective drywall to remain
in place under certain conditions,
Addresses the conditions for the removal and replacement of
insulation and flooring materials,
Addresses the conditions for the removal and replacement of
electrical wiring and plumbing and mechanical system components
Establishes cleaning, airing out, and clearance testing
criteria post remediation and prior to re-occupancy,
Establishes standards for agencies conducting pre-rebuilding
or post-rebuilding clearance testing,
Establishes standards for post-rebuilding clearance testing,
Addresses final approval by the local building official, and
Addresses the approval of remediation work undertaken prior
to the approval of remediation standards.
As far as we are aware, these were the first general remediation
standards for defective drywall to use the medium of uniform building
regulations to give effective guidance for contractors and homeowners
restoring residential properties to a safe condition. They are
comprehensive in scope. Perhaps most importantly, they provide
standards for post-remediation testing. Current and subsequent
occupants of remediated residential property must have assurance that
the problems associated with defective drywall have been eliminated so
that these houses can once again become homes.
Other Sources of Remediation Guidance
While DHCD was considering the provisions for a remediation
standard, the CPSC continued to work on its recommended guidance. The
National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) and the Knauf Company (a
global supplier of building products) also proposed varying responses.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana included
its own scope of remediation in conjunction with the Taishan Gypsum
Co., Ltd. case. While there was considerable overlap among these
proposals, there were also some significant differences. The most
notable of these concerned the appropriate handling of electrical
wiring in affected properties. The District Court generally required
the most extensive remediation steps, going beyond not only the NAHB
but also the most recent CPSC recommendations. The Court included the
removal and replacement of all electrical wiring as well as removal and
replacement of various hard-surfaced components of homes, such as
cabinetry and tile floors.
The most significant difference between the standard incorporated
in the Virginia building code and those of the Louisiana court probably
occurs in connection with electrical wiring and hard-surfaced
components. Virginia does not require the complete removal of
electrical wiring components or of woodwork, cabinets, tile or wood
floors. Instead, wiring may be left in place so long as exposed ends
are removed or cleaned to reveal clean or uncorroded surfaces. Hard-
surfaced-materials may be left in place or reused. On the other hand,
the CPSC guidance does not go as far as the Virginia regulations in
addressing the removal and replacement of items such as HVAC components
and water service plumbing. These variations in applicable guidance do
have implications for the cost of remediation.
Costs of Remediation
It is perhaps no surprise that the Louisiana Court's remediation
protocol, which required the most sweeping actions, appears to carry
the highest cost--pegged at $86 per square foot. That would amount to
more than $200,000 for a 2,400 square foot home--exclusive of temporary
relocation costs and other ancillary charges. The National Association
of Homebuilders suggested guidelines would fall well below that range
(perhaps closer to $35-$50 per square foot) as would Virginia's new
Several factors influence any estimate of the aggregate cost of
remediating defective drywall in Virginia. These include the actual
number of affected properties, the size of the housing unit, the extent
to which the offending material is actually present, the number of
sheets of new material needed to replace the defective product and the
remediation standard. Homes where relatively little of the material was
actually present or where it was limited to a specific area may not
require as extensive a response. However, where the material is mixed
with other drywall or scattered throughout the dwelling unit, the
safest and most expeditious response is to remove and replace all
Assuming that there are at least 400 affected housing units in
Virginia, the estimated cost of remediation could reach or exceed $32
million depending on whether only limited amounts of material were
present in affected homes or if all drywall and other affected
materials and systems had to be removed and replaced. Given what we
know about the extent of the problem, it is likely that the costs would
reach the estimate. Following the Louisiana Court's protocol would
likely double this sum. Note that this only addresses the work done to
the property itself and not costs associated with reimbursing residents
for the time they would be relocated during the remediation process and
other potential costs.
Regardless of the specific dollar amount associated with varying
remediation standards, the most salient fact is that, for a variety of
reasons, most of the parties affected by defective drywall lack the
resources to pursue remediation without assistance. Further, at least
in the case of Virginia, few viable sources of funding appear to be
available. Unless the manufacturer associated with the materials
implicated in the affected Virginia homes agrees to a broad settlement,
litigation is likely to be long and frustrating with no certainty that
claimants will be ever be made whole. While the state and its local
governments have offered tax relief to affected owners, such relief
cannot provide the front end funding needed to begin the remediation
The straitened financial circumstances of state and local
governments make them less able to offer financial assistance to
homeowners than might have been the case in earlier times. Annual
funding available to states and affected entitlement jurisdictions from
formula-driven Federal program sources, such as those administered by
HUD, fall well short of the scope of the problem in Virginia and
include features that may limit their direct use in the response to the
Virginia has explored other options, including the possibility of
setting up a low/no-interest loan fund to give affected homeowners
access to the front-end money needed to pursue remediation.
Unfortunately, the wider decline in housing market values as well as
the even more catastrophic losses associated with property identified
as containing defective drywall, means that there is almost no equity
in these homes to provide security for loans under current
Virginia has used low/no-interest loan programs successfully for
many years to finance low-income home purchases, the remediation of
indoor plumbing deficiencies and more general home rehabilitation
initiatives. In each of these cases, however, the expectation built
into the projects was that at some point in the future--whether by a
subsequent sale of the property, a market rate refinancing, or even in
the case of delinquency and ultimate foreclosure--some equity would be
available to return to the underlying program. That assurance does not
appear to present in the case of defective drywall homes. As a result,
any financial aid might effectively amount to a grant in aid at a time
when the state, like other governmental entities is working hard to
meet its existing obligations for a wide array of vital public
As an alternative, Virginia is also exploring the possible use of
HUD Section 108 Loan Guarantees authorized under the Community
Development Block Grant Program to provide loans to affected
homeowners. It is unclear whether such a mechanism is feasible. Program
requirements may limit the availability of this option to some affected
parties or communities. The ability of homeowners to repay even loans
at this relatively favorable rate is a practical constraint. Despite
their nominal incomes, many households could find it difficult to repay
loans while continuing to remain current with mortgages--especially
when those homes have little or no remaining equity in their current
state. Success might depend on the willingness or ability of the
original mortgagee to agree to a modification based upon the potential
benefits of a successful remediation effort, including more stable home
values, the restoration of equity, and an increased likelihood of
future mortgage payments. Nonetheless, even this approach faces long
odds and is unlikely to offer a broad remedy for the bulk of affected
The circumstances surrounding defective drywall are nearly
unprecedented. Previous instances of the failure of construction
materials have generally involved domestic manufacturers and suppliers
of new products. Defective drywall involves international trade in what
was seemingly one of the most mundane commodities used in construction.
The fact that some of the manufacturers have virtually no legal or
business presence within the United States severely constrains the
ability of individuals, or their home states for that matter, to attain
redress. The scale of the aggregate costs of the product and the fact
that its effects and substantial costs extend across several states
strongly suggests that there is a need for the Federal Government to
become even more active in responding to this issue. The CPSC and other
agencies have provided valuable information that helped identify the
source and nature of the problem and lay out a technical path for the
safe remediation of affected homes. Now the Federal government needs to
consider putting its shoulder to the wheel in addressing the next step
of the process-marshalling the financial resources that enable
homeowners to undertake remediation.
Virginia, like its sister states, will continue to pursue workable
methods for getting the product out of homes and people back into them.
In the end, of course, the best solution would be for those who
produced a product that has disrupted the lives of our citizens to take
financial responsibility for those consequences.
Senator Pryor. Thank you. Mr. Shelton: That concludes my
remarks. Senator Pryor: Thank you. Ms. Brincku.
STATEMENT OF BRENDA BRINCKU--ALVA, FLORIDA
Ms. Brincku. Thank you for the opportunity to appear,
I especially want to thank Senator Nelson for personally
inviting me here, and for meeting with us in the office in
My name is Brenda Brincku, and my test--my drywall home is
in Alva, Florida, where I lived for four and a half years with
my husband George, my son Harrison, and my two daughters,
Christine and Ashley.
Three years ago, a few days before Christmas, we found out
that our home was what was making us sick and corroding our
electric wires and our A/C unit.
We were both owner-builder of our home in Alva, which was
built in 2004 using American-made drywall. I bring this to your
attention because so much of the problem has been focused on
defective Chinese drywall.
Despite the manufacturer, if your drywall is defective,
your nightmare becomes your reality. We suffered the very same
consequences as the Chinese drywall homeowners. We got sick;
our homes smell; our electrical wiring corroded; and we had
seven air conditioning units fail. Our financial well-being has
been decimated. My dream home is now valued at zero. My taxes
used to be $4,000 a year, are now just $254.
The expense of this disaster has destroyed our credit, and
we no longer have credit cards. The simply act of getting a
hotel to testify today was now impossible.
Our small family-owned landscape was diminished, and when
our clients realized that they had Chinese drywall, and then
they, and their neighbors, due to the loss of the value of the
whole neighborhood, canceled their contracts. We had to leave
behind bedding due to the fact that our coils inside our beds
As grown adults, we are now forced to turn to our parents
for financial support, when, in turn, hurt them financially.
Never did we, or my parents, imagine that this would be allowed
to go on for so long.
I appear before you today representing the tens and
thousands of homeowners across the United States that have any
type of defective drywall in their homes. Please read the
homeowners' testimonies that have been submitted to the
Committee so that you can understand what a devastating impact
this has been on American families.
Despite what you may have heard in the news, homeowners
with defective drywall are still suffering tremendously
financially, emotionally, physically. Senior citizens who
purchased their home outright are now forced to pay rent to
live in a safe environment or are forced to stay in a toxic
home. Three of the homeowners sitting here today in the hearing
room have lost or are losing their homes.
A Florida homeowner moved into a tent on her property this
past weekend. A Virginia homeowner was forced into bankruptcy
from toxic drywall, but a mortgage company is holding up the
bankruptcy hoping for money from the legal settlement, which
could take years. Military families, if they are forced into
bankruptcy or foreclosure and or not being able to sell their
homes when they get--change orders to their new duty area. This
is upsetting for the children, because they have to leave their
friends, their neighbors, their schools, and in many instances,
their toys, personal items, because odor from their
contamination is horrendous.
Families have been told to leave their homes by their
pediatricians and physicians due to extreme illnesses,
autoimmune, kidney disease, kidney cancer, extreme breathing
problems, unimaginary fatigue, death of pets and cats and dogs,
death of family members.
Where are families and their physicians to turn to? Where
are the families and physicians to turn to for assistance? Many
of these families had to seek out professional help, another
expense, to help them deal with this surreal experience. The
CPSC is too small of a Federal agency to deal with such a large
issue. The financial remediation guidance says corroded
electrical wiring can remain in a contaminated home; leave the
wiring is a miniscule expense in the whole remediation process,
and never should be left considering the hazard. Requires
electrical wiring check every 40 years. The CPSC says there is
no health hazards and no safety issues but yet the drywall must
What are we to do with this type of information? When would
this findings be peer reviewed? What can the Committee and the
Congress do to help? The House of Representatives has a caucus
dedicated to contaminated drywall. The Congressional caucus and
the Committees can. Most important is our health. Require the
CDC to start gathering health information, and appoint a
specialist to be available to answer ongoing health concerns
from toxic drywall homeowners and their physicians. Hold
another hearing, and call in the manufacturers to let them know
that they will be held liable by our Government for the
destruction of these homes, just like it was done with Toyota,
Haliburton, BP and Transocean. Help homeowners restore their
credit, via extenuating circumstances ruling to pre-toxic
drywall status. Help prevent foreclosures for the few
homeowners that wish to try to save their homes in hopes of
legal settlement. Meet regularly to craft legislations and
produce minutes to be made available to the public.
Call in the insurance industry to the next hearing to
discuss lack of coverage. To date, all the insurance from
homeowners, installers, suppliers, builders deny coverage,
citing the pollution exclusion. Provide legislation that
authorizes no-interest loans to help homeowners remediate.
Establish drywall standards to help prevent this from happening
in the future.
We request the Attorney General look into the fact that
some American businesses knew about the problem caused by this
toxic problem and chose to cover it up, not inform homeowners
or the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If this is not
illegal, then laws need to be changed.
The toxic drywall homes that are now owned by the banks
need full disclosure upon sale, so that the second generation
families will not become victims of this toxic product.
Federal regulators have dropped the ball, and we hope this
committee can help turn that around and send Federal assistance
to these devastated American families. The victims of toxic
drywall have sat and watched our Government rush off to help
citizens in other countries for the last 3 years, while we have
been completely ignored. We watched as our Government sends $20
million to Pakistan to create Sesame Street. In these dire
times in our own country, our money should not be going
overseas--taxpayer money should not be going overseas, but
staying here and helping to put our country back together.
Once again, I thank you for the opportunity to testify
before you on behalf of the homeowners suffering with defective
drywall, be it Chinese or American made. If time permits, I
will be attempting to answer any questions the Committee may
have for me.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Brincku follows:]
Prepared Statement of Brenda Brincku--Alva, Florida
Thank you, Chairman Pryor and members of the Committee for this
opportunity to provide testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer
Protection, Product Safety and Insurance. I would also like to express
my personal appreciation to Senator Bill Nelson for his commitment to
helping affected homeowners whose houses are contaminated by sulphur
compounds emitted from defective drywall. I am convinced that these
compounds are causing health and safety problems for my family and
My husband George and I are just one of tens of thousands of
homeowners who, through no fault of our own, have been devastated by
having defective drywall in our home. Unlike the common complaint about
Chinese Drywall, we had National Gypsum American made drywall in our
home. We had no Chinese drywall in our home yet our American drywall
was causing the same effects as those experienced with Chinese drywall.
American drywall has destroyed our home. Both American and Chinese
drywall have destroyed our landscape business. Many of George's
landscape clients had Chinese toxic drywall in their million dollar
homes. Some of our clients that lived in the neighborhoods with Chinese
Drywall homes but did not have the defective drywall in their homes
felt the toxic drywall homes where bringing down the value of their
homes. Both sets of clients decided to stop investing money in their
homes and landscaping due to the contaminated Chinese drywall homes. A
lot of my husband's clients have walked away from their million dollar
homes since their builder wouldn't step up to the plate and the legal
cases are being dragged out in the court system.
We had to move out of our defective American drywall home on March
14, 2009 and we moved into a rental home about 25 minutes away. We have
been trying to run our landscape business traveling back and forth
between our toxic and our rental home. Our landscaping business was run
from our acre and a quarter property where the toxic home sat. Now that
we are no longer able to live there we cannot keep our inventory on
hand for fear of it being stolen from the property of the abandoned
toxic home. Our rental home is in a community which won't allow us to
run a landscape business out of our home. George has had to obtain a
new position at a nursery and we continue to service our last few
clients from the landscaping business.
In 2003, George and I invested our savings and our hearts into the
purchase of a property in Alva, Florida. We acted as owner/contractor
in building our home. We made a full effort to employ local
subcontractors to help with construction. I remember the many days and
nights both George and I fell exhausted from the days work only to
strive for the next days tasks to build our dream together.
Shortly after completion of the home in October 2004, we
experienced failures of 3 coils in one AC unit and 4 coils in our other
air conditioning unit, blackening of electrical wiring and failure of
household appliances. After we found out we had the defective drywall
our homeowners insurer asked us to turn the electric off to our home
when we were not there because they feared there would be a fire. I
realize that much of the attention has been paid to those with
defective Chinese drywall, yet there is a universe of homeowners like
us, with American made drywall, who have yet to be acknowledged as
having a problem.
The impact that this has had on my family is unimaginable. My three
children lived in this toxic environment and then had their lives
turned upside down when we were forced to abandon our home and leave
many of our personal items behind for fear of contamination of our new
residence. My son lived in this house for half of his life and now, for
the rest of our lives, we have to wonder what impact this will have on
his future health, the health of all of our family members. If this
toxic product has corroded the silver and copper items in our home what
has it done to our lungs, our health, our bodies. We know we were
horrendously sick living in that toxic home and we must ponder the long
term effects forever.
For today, however, I represent everyone across the United States
and abroad who continue to suffer the ill effects--physical, emotional
and financial--resulting from having defective drywall in their homes.
George and I are among a few outspoken homeowners who have been
advocates for these victims. We have been involved from the very start
of this problem, yet little help has been provided to us to date.
I would like to summarize what has occurred at the Federal level.
However, I preface my comments by stating that, short of some
homeowners receiving local property tax relief, the federal agencies
working on this problem for over four years have failed us.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Failed Us
The CPSC is the lead Federal agency responsible for addressing the
safety issues surrounding the defective drywall problem in the United
States and its Territories. This Agency is ill equipped to deal with
such a large scale defective product issue. The CPSC has invested
millions of dollars in testing homes with the defective drywall and has
made a valiant effort to find a solution. We have been provided with
study after study, many which are not peer reviewed. The findings of
the studies have often been published late on a Friday afternoon to
avoid media attention.
The Final report released by the CPSC provided its recommended
remediation protocol which told homeowners that it is acceptable to
leave the electrical wiring in a home. To me this protocol is useless
and I would never put my family in a situation where we may be killed
in a fire cause by an electrical malfunction from defective drywall. I
invite the CPSC to talk to some of the contractors who have remediated
these homes. In every case they have found that the corrosion caused by
the defective drywall has spread far beneath the casing of the
electrical wires. CPSC did offer some advice to homeowners. They
suggested that we have the wiring checked every forty (40) years.
Imagine that, how would one do that when the average home is sold once
every 7-10 years.
I realize that the CPSC has just over 400 employees nationwide and
that they spent a major portion of their budget on the drywall problem.
Much of the cost could have been avoided if they had in-house
expertise. Early on there was a Multi-Agency Task Force Formed to
address this, but I found that coordination and communication among the
agencies involved was inconsistent at best and should be considered a
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service Failed Us
I would like to personally thank Senator Nelson for his involvement
in directing the IRS to provide homeowners with defective drywall the
ability to claim a casualty loss on their income taxes if they had
remediated their drywall homes themselves. This provision only helped
homeowners who were wealthy enough to have remediated their homes and
did nothing for the tens of thousands of other homeowners. While in
principal, this tax relief is welcomed, under the provisions issued by
the IRS, homeowners who may receive compensation in the courts would
then be required to declare that compensation as income making the
casualty loss useless once/if court cases were settled and compensation
The Federal Emergency Management Administration Failed Us
As homeowners searched for every opportunity for resources, we
quickly turned to FEMA to declare the defective drywall problem as a
national emergency, thus releasing emergency funding for temporary
housing, and for low or no interest loans. The damages from the
defective drywall are likened to damages suffered in a hurricane or
other disaster. In fact, both Senators Warner (Va.) and Nelson (Fl.)
referred to the defective drywall problem as a ``Silent Hurricane.'' We
were told by FEMA that they could only act if the Governor of our State
requested a Federal declaration.
Homeowners in Florida began petitioning then Governor Charlie Crist
to request the necessary declaration; however, the Governor had his
Director of Emergency Management request FEMA assistance, which was
quickly declined because the request was not from the Governor. Further
attempts to have the Governor directly request FEMA help failed.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Failed Us
Once again Senator Bill Nelson petitioned another Federal agency
for assistance for homeowners. Senator Nelson thought there may be an
opportunity to utilize Community Development Block Grant Funding for
remediating homes with defective drywall, the premise being that these
funds could be used if the homes with defective drywall were considered
blight. This idea gave us hope, yet in practice, we found that the
funds were administered by the local government and were already
allocated; and we quickly found that we would be competing for the
funding with Victims of Domestic Violence, the homeless, and Victims
with AIDS. In reality, the CDBG funding was so small it would only help
1-2 homeowners if the entire budget was used solely for the defective
The Center for Disease Control Failed Us
There are many health symptoms that homeowners and especially
children have, as a result of being exposed to defective drywall.
Nosebleeds, skin rashes, respiratory issues, sore throats, dizziness,
and burning eyes and autoimmune disease are just some of the health
problems homeowners are experiencing. Others have reported greater
problems including central nervous system effects, restless leg
syndrome, hair falling out and some even claim that deaths have
occurred from the off-gassing. With all of these complaints, the State
Health Department in Florida did not have the resources for individual
testing of homeowners and once again Senator Bill Nelson asked CDC to
look into the health aspects.
The CDC reviewed available data and drew a conclusion that the
symptoms that homeowners were experiencing were similar to common
ailments like having a cold or allergies. The CDC response in their
online drywall document was that homeowners should ``Go outside to get
fresh air'' if they could not breath in their own home!
The CDC recently issued a final decision that there will not be a
long term health study associated with the effects of having defective
drywall in a home.
The U.S. House of Representatives Drywall Caucus on Defective Drywall
has Failed Us
We appreciate those Members of the House of Representatives who
have come to our assistance by becoming members of this Caucus. Having
said that, it should be noted that until recently, the group rarely met
and attendance was dismal.
Statistics reveal that millions of board-feet of defective drywall
enter the United States and its Territories--enough to build 100,000
homes nationwide. Defective drywall has been discovered in at least 41
of the 50 United States. There are 435 Members of the U.S. House of
These statistics are telling because the problem of defective
drywall is so widespread yet there are only a handful of Members of the
House of Representatives who actively participate on the Drywall
Caucus. How can that be? I realize that each Member has a lot to do but
there seems to be a lack of attention to the defective drywall problem
on a national scale.
I ask that the Committee consider the following ideas:
Require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to arrange
for a peer review of its final remediation guidance,
particularly because leaving electric wiring in a contaminated
home is clearly an unsafe condition. Peer reviews are a normal
part of any technical decision that affects the public and in
this case the CPSC issued its final guidance without a formal
peer review process or public hearing and/or public input as
required by the Federal Code of Regulations.
Direct the CPSC to declare this product a hazard
Direct the CPSC to create standards for drywall content
Direct the Center for Disease Control, in conjunction with
State Health Departments across the United States, to conduct a
long term health assessment of the effects of defective drywall
This Committee should be the catalyst for Members of
Congress to be made aware of and actively participate in the
Congressional Drywall Caucus.
This committee should undertake the responsibility to pursue
the availability of low or no interest loans to homeowners who
wish to remediate their homes. Perhaps the Small Business
Administration would be one avenue to pursue.
This committee should work to restore the credit of families
who, through no fault of their own, have lost their homes due
to this toxic product be it via short sale, bankruptcy or
Lastly, the Committee should consider the possibility of
homeowners receiving Federal grants under a declaration similar
to that of a hurricane or flood, and administered by FEMA. At a
minimum the grants should be available to those wishing to
relocate to temporary housing.
In conclusion, I would like to again express my appreciation to the
Committee and to Senator Nelson for this opportunity to provide
testimony on this important issue. I stand ready to answer any
questions the Committee may have. Thank you.
Senator Pryor. Thank you.
Ms. Brincku, let me start with you. And again, I'm sorry
that you've had to go through all this. It's just been a
terrible hardship. But, let me ask just a few questions. And I
think you touched on all these, but I want to make sure I
understand the answers.
I want to go back to legal recourse under the circumstances
you, in your case, maybe rarer than the other ones, you have an
American company who manufactured this. What, do you have any
legal recourse against that company?
Ms. Brincku. We are going to trial in May, the first 2
weeks in May, at Fort Myers. And, you know, for us, it's the,
this issue, the same things that happened to us, just like any
other homeowner with Chinese. And we've lost our business;
we've lost, you know, our home is, we're going through
moratoriums. Every 3 months we get reviewed. And then, you
know, fighting for the victims, and watching what has happened
to them, it's the same things as what is happening to
Senator Pryor. And your homeowners insurance doesn't cover
Ms. Brincku. No. Our homeowners, or builders insurance. And
Senator Pryor. But, there's some sort of exclusion in the
Ms. Brincku. Yes. Pollution exclusion. And also, our
homeowners insurance told us to flip off the electricity. They
were worried and concerned about a fire.
Senator Pryor. OK. So, you've also tried to work through
your contractor, but no----
Ms. Brincku. We are the owner-builder.
Senator Pryor. OK.
Ms. Brincku. We are the contractor.
Senator Pryor. OK. And, you've told us what you think the
Congress should do and what the agency should do. So, I
appreciate you coming in today, and I appreciate your testimony
today. And, we will continue to try to do this. The two
senators here, as well as some others who aren't here today
have been working on this for a while. But, we've run into some
brick walls ourselves.
Mr. Shelton, let me ask you a question about Virginia. You
mentioned that you, the state has a drywall task force, and
that you've done some requirements now about disclosure upon
the sale of the homes, I guess is how that works. And, you have
this new remediation standard. And you mentioned that it's hard
to figure out how to pay for the remediation. That's a
difficult thing. Is it your experience that generally
homeowners policies don't cover this?
Mr. Shelton. That's correct. I think the experience in
Virginia was very similar as Ms. Brincku described. There's
usually a hazard or a pollution exclusion in those that has
been tested through the courts. In fact, there was proposed
legislation to try to unwind that in Virginia that was
unsuccessful. Generally, the conclusion has been that was a
preexisting contract that was defined in the terms, and that's
been upheld on the insurance companies. And so, homeowners have
not been able to get any relief.
Senator Pryor. OK. And, you mentioned the costs of
remediation in your state, and I wasn't quite sure I followed
that exactly, but there may be a national figure, and you guys
think you can do remediation cheaper in your state?
Mr. Shelton. Well, this is an evolving field, so the first
standard, I believe, that anyone put forward was in the courts.
And there was professional testimony in Louisiana, and that
involved removing all of the drywall, all the electrical, all
of the soft surfaces, as well as many of the hard surfaces. So,
trim; cabinetry; and lots of tile floors all would have to be
removed. That's almost----
Senator Pryor. What about the plumbing? You----
Mr. Shelton. Not so much the plumbing, unless it was
copper. If it's copper line pipes, yes, because--but the
plastic pipe didn't seem to be affected. But, it was more the
copper elements, or, that would corrode.
That was estimated at about $86 a square foot, which gets
up pretty high in many of these homes, which are not, you know,
there are different experiences. But in Virginia, they're
What we believe is that if you don't require the removal of
those hard surfaces, which, we think the testing from CPSC and
others shows that you really don't have to do; and then, the
big issue was removal of electrical wiring. Initially we were
looking at having to remove all wiring. The decision came down
after CPSC issued its updated guidance, was that you would not
have to remove all wiring. All devices, yes. And you would have
to strip the wiring back to show that there was no corrosion.
But, if you did that, we believe that you can leave wiring in
place, and that's a major cost factor in this remediation.
So, by doing those things and not removing the hard
surfaces, it gets you down, the estimate is somewhere between
35 and 50, depending on the kinds of materials used in the
home; but it makes it more affordable.
Senator Pryor. OK. But that's still a lot of money for
Mr. Shelton. It would definitely be a lot of money, and
could not be done within the means of most of these homeowners.
Senator Pryor. And the inconvenience of having to probably
move out of the home while that's being done, and----
Mr. Shelton. Absolutely. But, I think the experience is
that most homeowners are not in their homes right now.
Senator Pryor. All right.
Senator Wicker. Well, it is just heartbreaking.
Let me follow up on that line. Mr. Shelton, at $35 a square
foot, which would be the lower end of your estimate, a 2,000-
square-foot home, am I right that that's $70,000?
Mr. Shelton. That's correct, Senator.
Senator Wicker. And some homes are smaller than that, and
some homes are larger than that. But, try to do with math with
8,000 homes nationwide, that's over half a billion dollars.
Mr. Shelton. It's a big number. In Virginia alone, our
estimate was on the low side in the 30 million range; and it
might be upwards of the 50 million range. That was an estimate
of some 300 to 400 homes.
Senator Wicker. Well, you know, the home is the castle.
And, Ms. Brincku, I just, I hope there's something that the
brightest minds in Washington, D.C. can come up with to give
you some sort of solution. And, at least, you have a redress
through the courts.
Have any other homeowners from this particular American
manufacturer company had complaints?
Ms. Brincku. Yes. Yes. There is, there are homeowners. And
some have lost their homes in waiting for the process. Their,
the banks have taken their homes. The banks refuse to work with
Senator Wicker. Approximately how many?
Ms. Brincku. Excuse me?
Senator Wicker. Approximately how many homes are----
Ms. Brincku. We have about 100 cases of----
Senator Wicker. Of that particular----
Ms. Brincku. For National Gypsum that are waiting. There's
others that have also had, other American drywall companies
have also had problems.
Senator Wicker. Do you think that National Gypsum adopted
different standards in the years shortly before you purchased
the drywall? What is it that happened all of a sudden with
Ms. Brincku. We are not exactly sure. We've done a lot of
research. There was a lot of different things going on at that
time. And there is shortages. They were running their factories
24/7. So, there's a lot of different things, theories that we
have, that then could have gone wrong at that time.
Senator Wicker. Mr. Cohen, Ms. Brincku suggests that your
studies were not peer reviewed. Would you respond to that? You
know, I have been someone who for a decade and a half in the
House and Senate has always called for sound science: Let's
listen to the scientists, and don't jump to conclusions. But,
she suggests that a peer review of these various studies might
have revealed something more helpful to the cause of these
Mr. Cohen. Yes, Senator Wicker. The studies that we
conducted were conducted with our top national laboratories and
using some of the top scientists. And we've conducted those in
consultation with our partner agencies and with private
scientists as well, to make sure that there was nothing but the
highest level of science going on. And we stand behind those
results completely. And we feel so confident that the science
was of the highest caliber that we posted all of those
materials publicly on our website as soon as they were reviewed
for quality control and quality assurance.
We've also put all of the raw data underlying those studies
publicly available so that anyone in the country can take issue
and study, and review our studies if they feel that they're not
To date, though, we have received no scientific
contradiction to our studies from others who have really
questioned the adequacy of our studies. We, our goal was to get
that information done right the first time, and to get it out
to the homeowners and to the public so that they could use it
as quickly as possible, and that's what we did.
Senator Wicker. You're not suggesting that the health
symptoms are not there, are you?
Mr. Cohen. I'm not suggesting that at all, Senator. I've
been in a home myself. I have experienced them, as have other
members of the staff. We've experienced them differently, and
different homeowners experience them differently. Approximately
half of homeowners report no health effects, and approximately
half do. And the half that do report differing levels of
sensitivity, from slight sensitivity to a great sensitivity.
We're not suggesting that they don't exist. We're
suggesting that we don't--we have not been able to explain them
with the low levels of emissions that we're able to measure in
Senator Wicker. OK. Well, so, you haven't ruled it out,
then. You simply have not been able yet to establish a causal
connection. Would that be a fair statement?
Mr. Cohen. I think that's a fair statement. And we'll be
looking to our colleagues at CDC. If they're able to provide us
with additional information in their health consultation. We
would, of course, consider that in our investigation.
Senator Wicker. Do any of you--maybe Dr. Portier, or maybe
Mr. Shelton--can the drywall be tested before delivery at this
point? Do we have the scientific capacity now to test drywall
for this sulphuric and adulterated presence before it is
brought to a home? Can anyone answer that question? Mr. Cohen,
Mr. Cohen. I'll take the question. Yes.
Senator Wicker. OK.
Mr. Cohen. We are working, as I mentioned in my opening
statement, with the Gypsum Association and ASTM International,
which is a voluntary standard-setting organization, to do two
voluntary standards. One of which, we're pleased to announce,
went into effect last month. That standard focused on the
labeling of the drywall, because one of the major problems we
encountered in our investigation was--it's very hard to track
when you go inside a home that's been painted and to get behind
the board. Oftentimes the drywall is not marked by point of
origin. That will now be changing. It'll be marked by a code.
It'll be marked on a regular basis, so that we'll be able to
trace the drywall.
The second standard that we're working on, and we continue
to work with the Gypsum Association and with ASTM
International, is on a performance emission based standard,
which is what you're alluding to, which is to be able to
measure the levels of gasses, and what acceptable level would
be permitted, if any, coming off the----
Senator Wicker. When it is still at the warehouse.
Mr. Cohen. I'm sorry?
Senator Wicker. When it's still at the warehouse, or, the
Mr. Cohen. Absolutely. And trying to--there are, there is
the technology available to test that. I think that was your
first question. And what the industry, and what we're trying to
work with industry to figure out is, what are the acceptable
levels, if any, of--you know, because some of these materials
are naturally occurring, and so you can't completely get them
out. But, at a very low level, I think, we're going to agree on
a number that will assure, provide some assurance.
Senator Wicker. You know, if Senator Warner will withhold
for one final question, maybe I won't take a second round,
Tell me, are we aware of any problems that have occurred in
other countries that have received this Chinese drywall? It, is
it strictly an American phenomenon? Or, should we perhaps have
known from other instances before we started actually importing
Mr. Cohen. It appears to be a strictly American phenomenon
located in your region--the Gulf Coast region, and Hampton
Senator Wicker. I just suggest there's a lot we still don't
know about the science.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your indulgence.
Senator Pryor. Thank you.
Senator Warner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And, a lot of questions. One, following up on why, in an
inquiry, you asked about, with the insurance companies. As a
matter of fact, what even happens, it's so absurd, is if, when
you have, we had in Hampton Roads a responsible homeowner, or
home builder go into a series of homes and start to remediate
off her own nickel, and she got sued by her own insurance
company. A major homeowner-developer.
And again, I, Mr. Cohen and Dr. Portier, we've gone around
and around on this a number of times. But, you know, this
health causation, it just seems strange to me that we've not
been able to determine this health causation issue; yet, we all
acknowledge that for many people there are health effects.
Anybody that's been in one of the homes can see the corroded
wire. There's no doubt about the corroded wire. And even the
potential, then, is, as Ms. Brincku said, the potential health
hazard from a fire potential on the--and you go ahead and
acknowledge that people should go through remediation. It,
there seems to be just a disconnect there.
And, I know, Dr. Portier, you said in spring of 2012 now, 3
years after the fact, we're going to get the final CDC back
Dr. Portier. Causation is an interesting term you're using
here, so I'm going to take a minute and back away from it a
little bit. These particular gasses are toxic to human beings.
There is no doubt about that. It's a question about the level
of exposure, and whether you would manifest that toxicity for
those levels of exposure that you are seeing in these homes.
Senator Warner. Would you allow your family to live in one
of these homes?
Dr. Portier. Probably----
Senator Warner. As a doctor.
Dr. Portier. Probably not. That's part of the reason why we
are looking at it the way we are looking at it now.
The amount of time it would take to do a formal health
study would not do anyone any good in this particular case.
What a health consultation will allow us to do in this case is
to calculate what we think the peak exposures were in the homes
early on, or during warm days, or during days with high
moisture in the air--things that would affect what those
concentrations were. And, using that, we can look to see if we
missed the boat in measuring in the homes--the 51 home study.
Because the way you measure is over a longer period of time,
and so, it's an average exposure.
So we want to look very carefully at what those exposures
might have been in those homes, and think in terms of whether
it has crossed a threshold of human health effect.
Senator Warner. I think the most telling part of your
comments was that you wouldn't let your own family live in one
of these homes.
You know, one of the things that's also important, Senator
Wicker, with, that, we talk about causation, and the lack of a
full standard. Yet there are companies out there settling suits
on, legal suits on this issue. So, companies don't settle
unless they feel like at the end of the day they're going to be
And, one of the questions I have, Mr. Cohen, is that, you
know, I know that Chairman Tenenbaum has had now, I think,
three bilaterals with China on this, trying to force the
Chinese companies, and particularly some of the ones that,
Taishan, who came into Virginia, to bear some responsibility.
I want you to, I'd like to know what the status of those
conversations are; and, as well, again, to Senator Wicker's
point about--do, are we aware of how much additional Chinese
drywall may be sitting in warehouses around the country? And,
God forbid, let's make sure that there's some warning put on
that. And is there any possibility that there could be some of
that stored drywall still being sold into the marketplace?
So, if you can address both the question of the status of
the negotiation with the Chinese, and then, if we have any
record of where this drywall, that may not have been sold, is
in any storehouses around the United States, and making sure
that that's not sold into the marketplace.
Mr. Cohen. Yes. As you correctly noted, we have had some
very high level discussions--that Chairman Tenenbaum has had
very high level discussions with our Chinese counterpart,
AQSIQ, the regulator there.
When this investigation began in June of 2009, we
coordinated with that group, and we had two of their officials
visit homes in Florida and visit CPSC headquarters. We then
secured an invitation to go to China and send an investigatory
team there to look at some of the factories and to try to get
into some of the mines. Since that time, the item has remained
on our monthly agenda with them.
But on a much higher level, we've really pushed to raise
it, as you noted, to the bilateral China summits, and even the
recent trilateral summit involving the EU. We pushed it on very
high levels of the Department of State, the Department of
Commerce. We've provided briefing papers to former Ambassador
Huntsman on this.
As a small agency, we have pushed and pushed. And we know
that members of the subcommittee have also done so, and we
To date, there have been no response from the Chinese
manufacturers. They are basically telling us, ``return to
sender,'' and they don't see a problem with their drywall. And
their response has been pretty similar in the private
litigation as well. Unlike the one German conglomerate that's
made an appearance, these other Chinese companies have not come
to make an appearance, and to get involved in the settlement
discussions that you alluded to.
In terms of your second question regarding the other
Chinese drywall, I'll note that the import of Chinese drywall,
which was basically, the vast majority was in 2006, was in a
response to the overheated housing market and the post-Katrina
and Rita situation. It was a very unique historical and
economic moment. So, we don't see the economics supporting any
new drywall coming in. And, in fact, we have verified every----
Senator Warner. What about any of the drywall that may have
been imported in 2006----
Mr. Cohen. Right.
Senator Warner.--sitting in warehouses in the----
Mr. Cohen. We are aware, we have tracked some of that
drywall--it is a limited quantity--to a couple of warehouses.
And we have, and we do maintain contact with those, the owners
of that, and we've advised them that they should not be
distributing that in the marketplace, and if they intend to,
that they should notify us before doing it, because we may want
to take some action.
Senator Warner. But, is there any basis that they may be
still ignoring those recommendations and still selling that old
Chinese drywall into the marketplace?
Mr. Cohen. I don't have any information that would suggest
there's a basis that they're doing that based on the high----
Senator Warner. Can you get me some--I'd like to get some
documentation on that.
Mr. Cohen. I'd be happy to follow up after.
[The CPSC submitted the following letter and exhibits in
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Bethesda, MD, January 13, 2012
Via Hand Delivery
Contains Confidential Information
Protected By Section 6, CPSA (15 U.S.C. 2055);
Provided Pursuant To Section 6(a)(7), CPSA
(15 U.S.C. 2055(a)(7))
Hon. Mark Pryor,
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance,
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
United States Senate,
Dear Chairman Pryor:
Thank you again for inviting Mr. Neal Cohen, Small Business
Ombudsman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), to provide
testimony at the Subcommittee's December 6, 2011, hearing titled,
``Contaminated Drywall: Examining the Current Health, Housing and
Product Safety Issues facing Homeowners.''
At the hearing, Senator Mark Warner requested that Mr. Cohen
provide additional information regarding any remaining ''stockpiles''
of problem drywall that the CPSC has identified in the United States,
as well as information on the current status of those stockpiles.
Through this letter, we respectfully respond to his request.
In late January 2009, the CPSC began to look into reports of
noxious odors, corrosion of metal items in homes, and reports of short-
term upper respiratory irritation in new and recently renovated homes.
After identifying problem drywall imported from the People's Republic
of China as a potential catalyst for these problems, the Commission set
forth a multi-pronged, science-based plan to examine the issue. Key
elements of the plan included establishing the amount of potentially
problematic drywall that was imported, where that drywall was
installed, and whether any problem drywall remained in the distribution
By October 2009, the Commission had mapped out many of the contours
of the distribution chain. As part of this investigation, the
Commission also identified a limited number of stockpiles of remaining
inventory potentially linked to the drywall used in houses where metal
corrosion and other problems were reported. The ownership, locations,
and amounts of the principal stockpiles known to Commission staff are
(1) Davis Construction Supply, LLC, Newberry, Florida
(hereinafter ``Davis Construction''). Approximately 394,000
pieces of ``Dragon brand'' drywall produced by Beijing New
(2) Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., LTD (hereinafter ``KPT')
and Banner Supply Company (hereinafter ``Banner''), Fort
Lauderdale, Florida. Approximately 50,000 pieces of drywall
manufactured by KPT.
(3) Palmetto Manatee Forestry Terminal (hereinafter ``PMFT'),
Palmetto, Florida. Approximately 39,000 sheets of ``C&K'' brand
(4) Habitat for Humanity, New Orleans, Louisiana. Approximately
35,000 sheets of KPT drywall.
In late October 2009, CPSC staff sent each of the entities managing
or controlling these stockpiles a letter, by certified mail, requesting
that they ``notify us immediately regarding any possible sale,
disposal, or transfer, of any sort, of any portion of your stock or
inventory of Chinese drywall.'' A copy of this letter is attached as
Exhibit 1. To date, Commission staff has not received any responses
from these parties that the stockpiles have been sold, transferred, or
otherwise moved out of storage facilities and into commerce.
However, in an effort to continually monitor any remaining
potentially problematic drywall inventories, Commission staff recently
reached out again to the entities managing or controlling known
stockpiles. Attached as Exhibit 2 are copies of recent letters from
Davis Construction, KPT, Banner, and Arrow Terminals, Inc. (USA)
(manager of PMFT) stating that the drywall inventories they manage or
control have not been released into commerce. It is our understanding
from speaking with Habitat for Humanity staff in New Orleans that the
stockpile under its control was destroyed according to local waste
disposal laws. Commission staff obtained and retained samples of the
stockpile prior to its destruction. In addition, it is the
understanding of Commission staff that there are several entities that
continue to retain possession of small amounts (500 pieces or less) of
potentially problematic drywall. To date, Commission staff has no
reason to believe that any inventory has been removed from these small
stockpiles for use in new residential construction or renovations.
Finally, we note that this letter and associated attachments may
contain confidential business information protected by section 6 of the
Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), as amended (15 U.S.C. 2055). The
Commission could not provide this information to the general public
until staff followed all of the disclosure steps required by the
statute. Pursuant to your request, however, we are respectfully
providing the information pursuant to the Congressional Committee
exception in section 6(a)(7) of the CPSA (15 U.S.C. 2055(a)(7).
I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you or your staff
have any questions or need additional information, please do not
hesitate to contact me at (301) 504-7660, or by e-mail at
Office of Legislative Affairs.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office Of Compliance & Field Operations
Director, Defect Investigations Division
Dean W. Woodard
Via Certified Mail
Re: CPSC File No. PI090017--Drywall Imports from the
People's Republic of China
Per our prior communications, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission (``Commission'' or ``CPSC'') is an independent Federal
regulatory agency charged with the responsibility of protecting the
public against unreasonable risks of injury and illness associated with
consumer products. As you know, the Commission is investigating reports
that drywall imported from the People's Republic of China and installed
in homes in the United States has caused corrosion of metal components
in those homes and various health problems to the occupants of the
We understand your firm currently maintains a stock or inventory of
such Chinese-made drywall. Given our concerns with this product and the
related reported health and safety issues, pursuant to Section 27 of
the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), 15 U.S.C. Sec. 2076, we ask
that you notify us immediately regarding any possible sale, disposal,
or transfer, of any sort, of any portion of your stock or inventory of
Please direct any such notice to me directly by phone at 301-504-
7651 or e-mail at [email protected] If I am not available, you may
also direct any such notice to Mary Kroh, Compliance Officer, at 301-
504-7886 or [email protected] Please address your correspondence to Mary
Kroh's attention at the following address: Office of Compliance and
Field Operations, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Room 613-15,
4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814-4408. The Office of
Compliance and Field Operations telefax number is (301) 504-0359.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Dean W. Woodard,
Director, Defect Investigations Division,
Office of Compliance and Field Operations.
Consumer Product Safety Act--http://www.cpsc.gov/about/
16 C.F.R. Part 1101, Information Disclosure--http://www.cpsc.gov/ABOUT/
Part 1115, Substantial Product Hazard Reports--http://www.cpsc.gov/
Davis Construction Supply, LLC
January 5, 2012
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Education, Global Outreach, &
Small Business Ombudsman
Attn: Dean W. Woodard, Director
Re: Inventory of Chinese Drywall
Dear Mr. Woodard:
Thank you for your call earlier this week regarding our inventory
of Chinese Drywall. We have discovered that our initial figures which
were provided to your office in June of 2009, were inadvertently
understated. As a result of litigation, we have re-inventoried our
warehoused drywall since June 2009 and actually have more drywall
stored than previously reported. Our revised figures are:
305,628 boards of 5/8" Type X
89,148 boards of 1/2" Type X
We continue to maintain that our Dragon Brand drywall, which has
successfully been determined to be non-defective and non-corrosive
through independent testing and testing done by the CPSC, should be
released for commercial use. Should you have any questions or if we may
be of assistance in any way, please feel free to call or e-mail. We
look forward to hearing from you soon and also hearing that the CPSC
has released our drywall for commercial use.
Stefan M. Davis,
Kaye Scholer LLP
New York, NY, December 22, 2011
Neal S. Cohen, Esq.,
Trial Attorney, Division of Compliance,
Office of the General Counsel,
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,
Re: Knauf Plasterboard (Tianiin) Co., Ltd. Drywall
This letter is submitted on behalf of Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin)
Co., Ltd. (``KPT'') in response to your inquiry regarding KPT drywall
in the United States that is still in KPT's possession and control. As
we discussed, KPT has stored approximately 50,000 pieces of drywall in
a warehouse in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The drywall is stored for
evidence preservation purposes pursuant to an order of the Court in the
In Re Chinese Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, MDL
2047, pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of
Louisiana. The drywall is not being stored for distribution purposes.
It is K.PT's intention to dispose of the drywall in conformity with
applicable waste disposal regulations when permitted to do so by the
MDL Court. K.PT has no intention of distributing the drywall for
In addition to the warehoused drywall, KPT's contractor, Moss &
Associates, comes into possession of removed KPT drywall in the course
of remediating homes pursuant to a settlement program entered into with
the Plaintiffs Steering Committee in MDL 2047. Moss has represented
that it disposes of the removed KPT drywall in conformity with
applicable waste disposal regulations. The removed drywall is not
distributed for re-installation.
In addition, some of KPT's litigation experts may have some KPT
drywall, but these also will not be distributed for installation
I would point out that Banner has brought an action to rescind the
agreement whereby K.PT took title to the drywall in the Ft. Lauderdale
warehouse. Although K.PT disputes Banner's right to rescind, if they
were successful, Banner would regain title to the drywall, and KPT
would no longer control its disposition.
This response is without waiver of KPT's jurisdictional defenses to
Kaye Scholer LLP.
Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn & Dial, LLC
Atlanta, GA, January 3, 2012
Via Electronic and U.S. Mall
Neal S. Cohen
Small Business Ombudsman
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Re: Chinese Manufactured Drywall
Dear Mr. Cohen:
This firm represents Banner Supply Company and a number of its
affiliates (collectively ``Banner'') in the Chinese drywall litigation.
As you know, during the relevant time period Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin
Co. Ltd and its affiliates (collectively ``Knauf) manufactured and sold
Chinese manufactured drywall (``Chinese Drywall'') to my clients.
Banner, a small family owned Florida Corporation, has devoted countless
resources in pursuing Knauf for its conduct that has devastated
Banner's business and shattered the lives of many Florida homeowners.
I am responding to your request for written confirmation concerning
my clients' intentions related to the Chinese Drywall that is currently
stored in a warehouse located at 5260 N.W. 1Oth Terrace, Fort
Lauderdale, Florida. This Chinese Drywall has been stored in that
warehouse for years; it is within Knauf's possession and control. Judge
Fallon, in charge of the In Re: Chinese Drywall Multi District
Litigation pending in United States District Court, Eastern District of
Louisiana, as well as the attorneys for the Plaintiff homeowners that
have sued Knauf in Judge Fallon's Court, are all aware of the location
of this warehouse and its contents. Again, Knauf has title and
possession of the Chinese Drywall in this warehouse; while Knauf and
Banner disagree about many issues, Banner does not claim any right or
ownership over this Chinese Drywall.
Nevertheless, Banner agrees that it will not sell or otherwise
distribute to the public any Chinese Drywall over which it currently
holds title or over which it subsequently obtains title and; further
agrees, that if it disposes of such Chinese Drywall it will do so in
conformity with all applicable laws.
My client wishes to continue to cooperate with your office, as it
has done in the last several years since the Chinese Drywall inquiry
began. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or
Nick P. Panayotopoulos,
Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn & Dial, LLC.
Senator Warner. I don't know--Senator Rubio and his state
has been very effective on this. One last question, if I could
also get this one in.
Mr. Shelton, I know we've worked with you on a number of
ways to try to look at low cost refinancings. Do you have any
final comments on that? I know we've looked at a host of
different entities, and we're still, now, engaged with Fannie
and Freddie. But, if you'd comment on the cost of remediation
Mr. Shelton. Senator Warner, the most likely looking one
was using a HUD product, which is a loan guarantee product
which would allow for a fairly low-interest loan to be used to
finance the program. It currently operates at LIBOR plus two,
so--I meant, LIBOR, I think, is 2 percent. I'm sorry. I
misspoke. So, you're going to be above 2 percent.
The problem is, to pass any kind of reasonable underwriting
standard, you would have to have some equity in the home, or
some ability to pay. And so, as we've tried to unwind this,
we've come to the conclusion that's going to be very
problematic. There are other issues with that program and the
ability to use it, not the least of which is, it's a difficult
delivery system because there are HUD contracts with the larger
cities, and there are contracts with the state, and trying to
work across that span has been particularly difficult.
But, I think, if it's a loan-influenced product, our belief
is, this is not going to work. Someone mentioned zero percent
interest loans. If you have to secure with any kind of
guarantee on the loan and underwrite it, I don't believe it
would pass right now, because most of these were homes
purchased in the last six, seven, 8 years, and the equity is
just not there.
Senator Pryor. Thank you.
Senator Rubio, thank you for being here. And welcome today.
And also, I notice that Florida has 56 percent of all the
reported cases in all the country, 56 percent.
STATEMENT OF HON. MARCO RUBIO,
U.S. SENATOR FROM FLORIDA
Senator Rubio. That's correct. Thank you for having this
hearing. And this is an issue that predates my service here.
I've been here less than a year now. But during my time in the
State legislature, we saw a lot about it.
And, Ms. Brincku, thank you for being here and for all your
activism on behalf of Floridians who have been affected by this
all over the state. We've been hearing about this for years
now, particularly after 2004 and 2005, with the building and
I wanted to ask you something. I know it's in your
statement because I read it, and it talks about credit and the
impact that this has on people's personal credit ratings. And
you may have discussed this already, and if you have, I
apologize. I was a little late. But, the changes you've had to
make, and also other people had to make in their lives. They've
had to leave their homes behind; they've had to find secondary
places to live; sometimes have fallen behind on their payments.
I don't know if that's the case with you. But, talk a little
bit, if you could, with us about the impact that this has had
on the credit rating of victims who have suffered from this and
are now trying to recuperate some of that.
Ms. Brincku. It's had an enormous impact on the victims.
For 27 years, my husband and I had never missed a payment in
our lives. We'd always be on time. We had impeccable credit.
And our 800, over-800 credit score went down to 500. It, just
the simple thing of credit cards, having a credit card, we no
longer have credit cards; we no longer are able to obtain
credit. By the end of, by the time we get to court we will owe
$80,000 in back payments and interest and penalties from our,
So, it's, for all the victims, it's had an enormous impact.
People that had their houses paid off, it's devastated them
because a lot of them live on fixed incomes. People that have,
like, Colleen, behind me, she, you know, over a million-dollar
home; had $800,000 credit--I mean, equity in her home, and now
she's, you know, short- saling this Friday. So, what is this
still going to do her, you know, for her credit rating? On top
of, you know, when you go to apply for a job; if you claim
bankruptcy; all these things having a huge impact on, you know,
our job, our finances, I mean, everything.
And we, my, I had a grandfather that always told me, put
your money in your house, because it's always a safe
investment. So, I took my entire IRA and put it in my home. So
not only have I lost my home--I've lost my IRA, I've lost all
my savings. I'd stuck $150,000 into my home so I, you know, I
had equity, didn't have--and now, you know, it's gone.
Senator Rubio. And, I asked that question because you're a
victim of domestic drywall----
Ms. Brincku. Yes.
Senator Rubio.--but, the one we hear a lot about is the
Chinese drywall, and so we have limits into what we can do to
reach these manufacturers--the folks overseas.
One of the things we can do something is about is what
you're talking about, and that is the credit rating of
individuals that have been directly----
Ms. Brincku. Right.
Senator Rubio.--impacted. Because you can leave the home;
you can move away from the drywall; but the credit rating issue
will follow for----
Ms. Brincku. For the rest of our lives.
Senator Rubio. Well, at least, for 7 years, or whatever
Ms. Brincku. Yes. Seven years.
Senator Rubio.--timeframe is. But it just takes forever to
rebuild it. And quite frankly, there's things we can do about
that. And we, and I know you've been talking about that with
Senator Nelson before I got to the Senate, and that's something
we want to work together on with everybody on this panel,
because I think it's one of the things we can do something
You touched upon something else, which is short sales and
transactions. I'm talking to you now because I see you've
become an advocate on behalf of other people in the state that
have suffered this. One of the things I'm concerned about, and
maybe you can touch upon it, is that some homes are being sold,
or people are now buying homes without full disclosure as to
what they're getting. And, have you heard how many of your
victims actually bought homes from either a contractor, or a
builder, or another homeowner who basically dumped it on them
without disclosing? How much of a problem has that been in
terms of the non-disclosure issue?
Ms. Brincku. There's just so many victims that have told me
and share their stories. I've had cases where I've, I had
somebody go over and watch a house be remediated, and they took
ketchup and cleaned the wires. I've had, I mean, right here,
this wire, it's gone all the way through. And if I cannot
remove the wiring from my home, I will not move back in. You
can guarantee that. I will not--you cannot have alarms go off
in the middle of the night, with your children wondering, is
there a fire? Is there not?
I mean, all, like, all my things have turned yellow. It's
affected all the appliances in my home, you know. And so, we're
worried about the health and safety issue of this. It's a very
And the thing that, it's not being disclosed. And people
are remediating, and there's no set guidelines of how the
remediation is going to take place. You have people that are
remediating for as little as $6,000, just flipping the drywall,
or even patching up. I've heard, you know, them patching up the
drywall. Not even tearing the drywall out. One homeowner in
California, they did that to her home. They patched it up and
put it back on the market, and put some new carpet in it. A lot
of times they're, you know, taking the air conditioning out.
And so, they're, the banks are taking the air conditioning out;
it's bad, and then leaving everything else alone, so, when a
homeowner, the first thing they're going to check is what, the
A/C coils. When they see the A/C coils is not a problem, then
they say, ``OK, there's not a problem in the home'' and they
may not pay for an inspection, or the inspector doesn't, you
know, catch it or not, more, you know, educated in the area.
So, these are all things that we see constantly, every day,
that the homeowners, this has happened to.
Senator Rubio. That's my last point, and I'm glad you
brought that up. And one of your complaints--and I think
rightfully so; I read it in your statement--was that many of
these studies that are coming out on the safety and
effectiveness have not been peer reviewed, or, not been looked
at and compared.
But the opinion of some is that it's okay to move back into
some of these homes after certain things are done, but you're
saying this is not enough; that in fact--and you just
highlighted--you're not moving back into a home as long as this
faulty wiring is there, no matter how many reports come out
that say otherwise.
How prevalent of a concern is that among folks?
Ms. Brincku. It's very concerning. I mean, I've heard it
over and over. If these homes are not properly remediated, they
will not move back in. And the homes are so upside-down. You
know, before all this happened, our home wasn't an upside-down.
We had equity in it. And so, that's an enormous concern.
And for the amount that--it's, like, 5 percent to fix the
wiring and take it out--why not--well, why, in 40 years, who is
going to be here to check this wiring for the next families
that are coming in? The average homeowner lives in the house
for seven, you know, 7 years. So, who's going to keep passing
that information that needs to be changed?
Senator Rubio. Thank you, again, for the work you're doing
on this issue, and hopefully, we can be helpful, as well. Thank
Senator Pryor. Let me say we'll do a second round here, so
if anyone has more questions, be glad to entertain those.
Let me start with a little editorial comment, and it
follows on something Senator Warner said. And that is, China
should take responsibility for the products that they allow to
be sold in this country and other countries. And one of the
very basic starting points from my standpoint on this is that
Chinese corporations should have to register in this country,
just like domestic corporations, just like European
corporations, for service of process. If there's a problem,
they should have an agent in this country for service of
Senator Whitehouse has a bill on that, and I support that.
And I think he's going to re-file it soon. I'm not quite sure
when. But this is a textbook case of why it's critical that we
be able to reach these Chinese corporations if they do anything
wrong. They should be held liable, and they should take
responsibility just like other companies all over the world. It
gives them a huge economic advantage to be able to put all this
stuff in all these countries all over the world, and not have
any recourse to them.
So, that's my editorial comment for the hearing.
But, let me ask, if I can, Dr. Portier, you mentioned that
you, about the health studies, even though your studies are not
exactly as conclusive as I'd want them to be, you still support
remediation. Did you say you have another health study coming
out this spring?
Dr. Portier. It's called a health consultation. So, the
difference between a health study and a health consultation--in
a health study, take a compound like lead in children, you have
a clear disease that you can follow; you see neurological,
developmental deficits; you can measure the compound in the
blood, so you have a good exposure measurement; and that allows
you to have a definitive study that you can clearly understand.
Here we have none of those things. So, a health study in
this case would not give us a good, definitive answer. We think
we would spend a lot of time and effort, a lot of resources,
and in the end, we couldn't answer your question.
In a health consultation, on the other hand, what we do
there is, we go to well-done studies in the literature, things
that have been peer reviewed and have been published--
occupational studies, and studies like that where we've seen
health effects. From that we extrapolate down into a lower
exposure region until we find a place where we think it's going
to be safe for exposure. So, you estimate where you think it's
safe for exposure. Then, based upon the exposure
reconstruction, the simulation modeling that we're going to do
of homes, we bring those things together and make a decision as
to whether we believe there are health outcomes that should--
that would have been seen in this particular case.
Senator Pryor. OK. Well, that's helpful.
Mr. Cohen, you heard Ms. Brincku talk about her dire
financial consequences with this drywall. In the CPSC's
experience of looking across the country at all the states that
have been impacted, are you finding those similar stories in
all the states, and in--not with every single homeowner, but
generally, do you find that same type of story?
Mr. Cohen. Absolutely. And on the majorly affected states
that we've discussed, notably, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia,
Alabama and Mississippi, we hear these heartbreaking stories,
much like Ms. Brincku's, every day. And it, you know, we are
homeowners, too. We feel that and we have put our professional
lives toward trying to come up with the causation, trying to be
able to put forth a case. And we share the frustration, I
think, of everyone in this room that we haven't, that the
science hasn't provided that yet. And, we, you know, our hearts
go out. And we're just going to keep on this thing. And
hopefully we, well, might be able to develop with Dr. Portier's
expertise, the modeling that he just described might be able to
inform a future legal case that we can undertake under our
authorities. But presently, we don't have the evidence to
Senator Pryor. And, you also mentioned that the CPSC is
working with the Gypsum Association. And do you think that the
steps that the Association, the voluntary steps they're taking,
Mr. Cohen. We've been very pleased with the steps that
they've taken. Most drywall, just because of the nature of it--
it's a heavy commodity product--is generally made and delivered
in the area in which it's going to be used. So, traditionally,
this whole occurrence is just so out of the ordinary. So, most
of, almost all the drywall that's used in this country is
produced in North America, mostly the United States, a little
bit from Canada, and a little bit from Mexico.
All of the members of the Gypsum Association, including
those major producers in Canada and Mexico, have voluntarily
agreed to use this new labeling system which just went into
place next month, which will have a standardized code and a
standardized way that you can recognize the drywall that's been
installed in any home across the country. So, we are pleased.
We think they've been very cooperative in that regard.
And we have experienced the same cooperation in working
toward this performance-based emission standard. Just because
of some of the things that Dr. Portier described, it is a more
complex standard, and so we'll just continue working. And
that's something that CPSC does on a lot of products. We work
and try to improve these voluntary standards over many years.
Senator Pryor. And I think the Subcommittee, as well as the
full Committee, would be interested to know what the Chinese
government and Chinese companies response is when the CPSC
reaches out to them and asks them to provide information, and
also, step up on their responsibility to this. What do the
Chinese say about that?
Mr. Cohen. As I noted previously, they don't believe that
the--there's a problem with their product, and they've
steadfastly said that. They've said that in open court in the
multi-district litigation, when the German company stated that
they were going to do remediation. The major Chinese importer,
that has not made an appearance, stated to the judge: Judge, we
are not standing behind this company, and we're not getting in
line to do the same thing. We don't see a product--we don't see
a problem with our product. And to the Government, to us, and
to others who've raised the issue, they've said the same thing,
and they said: Show us the science. Show us where the problem
is. We don't see it anywhere. And that's been their response.
Senator Pryor. Senator Wicker?
Senator Wicker. Well, I won't take a full second round.
Let me echo what the Chair has said. China benefits
immensely from trade with the United States. It's time for
Chinese manufacturers to step forward and make themselves
available for service of process, much as other international
trading parties have done.
So, thank you for that, and thank you for mentioning the
Whitehouse legislation, which is something that we could use a
starting point for a small solution to this.
Mr. Cohen, you said that usually because of the weight of
drywall, it's usually not shipped internationally.
Mr. Cohen. Correct.
Senator Wicker. It's only this type of unusual
circumstance. You're not suggesting at all that maybe something
might have happened in the transportation, you know, oversea
transportation of this product?
Mr. Cohen. I'll just, sort of, note, on your first
comment--we, the Chairman has also come out in support of this
concept of having a registered agent here for these Chinese
manufacturers, especially in regards to the large number of
consumer products that are imported from China. This has been a
real problem for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. So,
CPSC staff provided testimony in support of a prior proposal to
that effect. And, as I said, the Chairman herself has come out
in favor of it.
In answer to your second question regarding----
Senator Wicker. Whether the actual physical transportation
Mr. Cohen. Right.
Senator Wicker.--had something to do with----
Mr. Cohen. We, in our compliance investigation--which we
haven't spent a lot of time discussing, but we conducted a
large compliance investigation as well--we did look toward, to
see if there were any similarities in the way things were
shipped, the ships they came on, the sorts of pallets they were
shipped on, all the different confounding factors that might
contribute to something you're suggesting. We didn't find any
evidence of that.
Senator Wicker. OK. Now, with the exception of American
Gypsum, we have not had any complaints about domestic drywall,
complaints made toward domestic drywall manufacturers, is that
Mr. Cohen. There have been reports--obviously, Ms.
Brincku's among them, and others like her--to the Consumer
Product Safety Commission of homes reportedly constructed
exclusively by domestic drywall exhibiting the same sorts of
characteristics of the problem imported drywall.
Senator Wicker. And these are from other manufacturers than
Ms. Brincku mentioned?
Mr. Cohen. Due to our statute, I'm not permitted to
actually speak about the specific manufacturers here on the
record, but I can talk in general terms about the domestic
We did, in June 2010, undertake a study particularly
focused on domestic drywall. At that time, we had received over
3,400 complaints of imported drywall problems. At that time, 67
of those were of domestic drywall. Since that time, we've
received 10 more.
Based on that, we still felt it was important, because we
wanted to be on top to make sure there was not going to be
another emerging hazard of domestic drywall in addition to the
imported drywall. So, in order to make sure that was the case,
we instituted the study. We used the exact same methodologies
that we had done on the imported problem drywall studies. We
went into 11 homes of domestic--that were self-reported to be
exclusively domestic drywall, and our findings were
inconclusive. We did not find another distinct pattern of
emerging hazard like the imported problem drywall.
Of the 11 homes, five seemed to match the imported drywall,
and very well may be imported drywall, because it's really
impossible for us to know what's in that home without
completely ripping out every piece of drywall in that home. And
that's been the most major challenge of our compliance
Senator Wicker. But now, at least, with the labeling, that
one distinct issue will be better handled.
Let me ask you this----
Mr. Cohen. Yes.
Senator Wicker. The ingredients of the drywall, the
components, how different is that in these Chinese
manufacturing plants, as opposed to domestic ingredients?
Mr. Cohen. The ingredients of drywall are fairly simple and
straightforward, and they don't really change based on the
place of manufacture. I mean, they're based on gypsum mined,
usually either gypsum mined rock, or reconstituted ash, fly
ash. But, all of those are basically reconstituted into gypsum.
They are put into a sort of mush, and pushed between two pieces
of paper, and basically baked and cut. It's a very simple
Some of the issues that are known in the industry are that
the rock that you're mining may have contaminants in it, of
course, and so there needs to be some level of quality control
or quality assurance on the input side of your factory. We're
not sure, because we just don't have complete access to know
what happened on that side of the Chinese manufacturing
process--how they were able to assure that there were no
impurities in that gypsum rock that formed the basis of the
Senator Wicker. Thank you.
Mr. Cohen. Thank you.
Senator Pryor. Thank you.
Senator Warner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Again, I'll be,
try to be brief here.
But, some of, one of the things that there--there was the
German company, though, who settled, correct? So, there was----
Mr. Cohen. They have engaged, and they have done some pilot
settlements, and they are engaged in major settlement talks.
Senator Warner. And, how do we make sure that, you know,
even if there's not--we went down the road of what might be
sitting in warehouses and trying to make sure those folks are
notified. And I want to see that documentation.
And then we also, you know, God willing, we may have
another housing boom at some point. And if we start importing
again, how do we make sure that we never repeat this? Even if
we're not at the final stage of causation--to make sure that
going, on a going forward basis, there's some ability to check
whether imported drywall, whether it's from China or anywhere
else in the world, isn't being mined in a, with faulty
Mr. Cohen. Again, I would, sort of, harken back to my
earlier comments about our voluntary standards development.
That technology does exist to test the rock, the raw rock, and
also the gypsum itself. You can test the elemental components
that make up, make it up. And so, I think in the near future
here--I don't want to give an exact date--but, in the matter of
months we should have a gypsum standard that we can be able to
have a baseline measurement, to be able to answer that
question, Senator Warner.
Senator Warner. Well, it seems to me we've got a couple of
different paths we need to continue to pursue. One--and I'm
going to echo what my colleagues have said in terms of holding
the Chinese responsible and making sure that if they're going
to do business in this country, they meet minimum fair business
practices, and trying to work with your agency and other
agencies of the Federal Government to force the Chinese to
accept this responsibility, since some of these companies were,
in effect, state-owned enterprises in China, so this directly
bears back on a responsibility of the Chinese government.
Number two, there's a question of both for this, these
circumstances on a going forward basis, what do we do in terms
of these pollution exemptions on insurance contracts? I mean,
it seems to me, if I was a homeowner and I bought a house that,
through no mistake of my own, ended up with a faulty product in
the wall--when I first heard there was an exemption and that
insurance companies somehow weren't covered on, through that
basis, why do you buy homeowners insurance in the first place?
And I'd like to get a comment from someone on the panel on
And then, the third is, it appears that many of these
families are going to be engaged in some form of litigation for
some time to come. And it appears that, while we have, at the
state level, working with Mr. Shelton, and these offices, and I
know Senator Nelson has been working with us as well, we've
tried to work with the financing organizations on how we can,
ease the pain a bit, forbearance. The IRS has gone ahead and
given safe harbor in terms of being able to write off; we've
made some progress there. We've been able to work with the
Defense security services to make sure people don't bear that
blemish that might hurt their secret clearance or clearances
with the Government.
But, as one of the Virginia families mentioned to me, you
know, ``Just tell me how I can get my credit back.'' I know
this is not either of your particular expertise, Mr. Cohen or
Mr. Shelton, but, you know, I would be interested in comments
on that. If someone is forced into a short sale, forced into
losing their home, how do they not let this disaster be
something that blots their next 20 years of their financial
Mr. Shelton. Senator, that is not my area of expertise. You
know, in the mortgage crisis that we've just had, there's been
a lot of work done on that. Clearly, that would take, I
believe, some intervention, perhaps at the Federal level, since
most of the, what we've experienced in foreclosure is that no
action at the state level will address this, because most of
the servicers are beyond the reach of the individual state.
They exist outside the state. So, that's, it needs a national
I don't know that solution yet, although I think that some
standards for making sure that--similar to what, exemptions for
military families, or some ability to at least get some
response from the ratings agencies directing, or, as, the
situation, if this is a one-time occurrence, it's a
catastrophic loss, but, at the same time, it was beyond the
control of the individual, so therefore it's not the
individual's personal credit. It was beyond their control.
I think the ultimate answer is that either through
settlement with the manufacturer, or through some other
intervention, as someone mentioned earlier, that if there is
not an ability to bring a product in to essentially remediate
these homes without putting additional burden and debt. I mean,
you bring the homeowner back current, then I think it gives
more standing to go back and say that the problem has been
cured both in terms of physical structure and the financial
piece of this.
My worry is that most homeowners will not last through this
crisis. Many, as we've already heard today, are going under.
Senator Warner. Mr. Cohen?
Mr. Cohen. I'd agree with Mr. Shelton. It's certainly not
my area of expertise; but I would certainly associate myself
with those comments. I think that it is a tragedy, what's
happening, that through no fault of their own, these
homeowners' credit is being eviscerated, in addition to the
loss of their homes. Some of the issues are state law issues.
The insurance issues are state law issues.
But perhaps there is some sort of Federal policy
distinction that can be made as well, akin to the military
Senator Warner. Well, Mr. Chairman, I want to again thank
you for holding this hearing.
I agree with both of you that we need to make sure that if
Chinese companies are going to do business in our country, they
play by fair rules, and are subject to our processes.
The insurance issues maybe have to be dealt with on a state
level, but I'd look forward to working with both your offices,
and other members of this committee, to at least also try to--
as Mr. Shelton said, it may require legislation. It may also
simply require us going at the credit rating agencies a bit,
that there should be some exemption so that these families
don't have a blot on their financial records which, candidly,
is not due to any inappropriate actions on their part.
I know we've worked with the banks and the IRS, and since
the IRS has been willing to note this and put safe harbor,
perhaps we can at least go down that route, as well as some of
the legislative route.
But, I want to again thank you Senator Wicker and Senator
Rubio, for your interest in this.
I'll close with where I started--in 20 years being in
government and public service, I can't think of a more
frustrating example of families through no fault of their own
being kind of ping-ponged from one governmental entity to
another, all being sympathetic and empathetic, but not getting
them the relief that, quite honestly, I think they deserve.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Pryor. Thank you.
I would like to say, I want to thank all the witnesses for
being here, but, Ms. Brincku, you especially. And I'm curious
about how many other victims are in the audience. Let's see.
There's three of four back there.
Well, we want to thank you all for coming. And we know this
has been a terrible hardship on every level. And so, thank you
all for being here.
What I want to do is, we're going to leave the record open
for 2 weeks. We're also going to encourage any Senator who has
any more questions to go ahead and get those in in the next 7
days, so that we can get these to our witnesses for them to
And we think that we may have one Senator on the way, but
let me check.
Well, we had one senator on the way, who we think may be
caught up in the Intelligence Committee, we think. And we
probably just shouldn't wait any longer, because he's a little
bit out of communication right now.
But, anyway, thank you all for being here. Thank all the
witnesses for being here. And I know the Government witnesses
are trying to resolve this and sort this out. But, like Senator
Warner said, this has been a real conundrum, or, a very
difficult problem to solve, and it's a real problem, and it's
just been hard.
So, thank you all.
Did you have anything?
Thank you all, and we'll conclude the hearing, but we'll
leave the record open for 14 days. Thank you.
[Whereupon, at 11:25 a.m., the hearing was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Letters from the General Public
Please enter my story with all of those received as evidence to the
hardships, non-restored health and financial welfare most of us face.
Important Points: My home was remediated, but after some months of
living there, I left again because symptoms came back; my Homeowner's
Insurance, St. John's, dropped me, lying on paper that I was an
``unknown homeowner--1 yr.'' and while in forbearance Bank of America
made me take out Lender's Insurance at over $900/day while my builder
was remediating and I was out of my home. Bank of America had me pay a
small escrow each month, even though I kept asking about paying more,
especially when they forced me to carry Lender's Insurance. I was told
repeatedly not to worry. Bank of America understood, would keep my
forbearance until my home was completed, then would send me a Loan
Modification, and would lower my interest, maybe stretch out years, and
do what was needed so I could live in my remediated home again. This
turned out to be false. As soon as they got the call from me that my
home was completed, and I requested the loan modification, they stopped
communicating. Instead I received a letter to tell me that I had 1
month to pay about $17,000. When Sen. Nelson's office contacted them in
my behalf, I did receive the BOA Loan Modification packet in
recognizable fed ex. What was never conveyed was any amount I could be
paying them, so I sent in my basic principle and interest payment for 2
months while I was waiting for the loan modification packet. Meanwhile,
without any communication to me, foreclosure proceedings were begun by
them on June 6, 2011. After that, I had received a call from someone
who was from the CEO's office who let me know about Sen. Nelson's
office sending a complaint. She was the person to assure me that I
would get the loan packet. However, she told me that it did not mean I
would get it. This was the first time I was told that this would not be
automatic because of my contamination loss. When I received the packet,
I sent it back, and again, never heard from Bank of America. I never
heard that I was already a defendant in a foreclosure proceeding. Plus,
I never received any communication for more than 2 months. One day, I
went looking for a used car to replace mine, and I was told by the
manager that he could not help me--BOA stated on my report that I was 6
months in arrears and in foreclosure. I was in shock and shaking when I
left. Again, I went to Sen. Nelson's office, and received a copy of a
letter sent back from BOA saying my loan modification packet was not
complete. No information about what was incomplete was given. After
leaving messages, I finally reached [redacted]. She told me at first,
that my modification loan was thrown out now, because it went 90 days
past, and that my loan application was scanned and sent to another
dept. Her dept. only worked on forbearances. When I questioned where it
went, who was then responsible for it, and on what date was it sent,
she could not answer my questions. She had me on hold for a while. As
soon as I told her that she was not truthful to me during my
forbearance as to what the steps would be, and I was angry. Also, I
complained that it was not fair to have no one communicate a
foreclosure proceeding, tell me what could be missing from my loan
application packet, nothing! I told her that all of this seemed so
wrong, and I would probably go to an attorney. Suddenly, she changed,
and told me that I could speak to someone right away to begin another
loan modification application. She just happened to have someone! I was
I told her that I still wanted answers to my questions, and called
back and left a message that I wanted to know where and to whom my loan
modification went, and to whom, and the date, and I am requesting this
in writing. I have requested this again, but to this date, I have not
received this. [Redacted] did call me back to tell me that she now got
special permission to handle solely a new loan modification request,
and wanted to send it to me to complete. She said that she would be the
only one handling it (which was not reassurance really, given her
``track record'' with me so far). She told me that this would not stop
the foreclosure from moving forward, even though I told her this was
not fair. She said that, if a sale date is set while the loan
modification was proceeding, BOA would notify the court that they were
considering the loan modification. For the first time, Isabel said that
this application was not a guarantee. She had been the one during the
forbearance who led me to believe it was! I did complete and mail this
on Nov. 25, 2011. I have heard nothing. However, I did receive a
``Notice of Action'' telling me Bank of America has filed against me,
and I am required to serve a copy of written defenses to the
plaintiff's attorney, Paul M. Messina, Jr. of Kass Shuler, Tampa, FL on
or before January 9, 2012. It is dated December 1, 2011. Why am I going
through all this when I have had a disaster destroy my home and most of
its contents? I have had the FL. Health Dept. Radioactive Testing Div.
test my home for remnants of strontium because I am trying to figure
out why the same smell that was in my home has once again, permeated
through all of my clothing in my closets, and why I started with
headaches, cramping in my stomach, incredible pressure in my head,
burning chest, and cough again. When I looked at my certificate of
testing during and after remediation by the builder's appointed
investigator, this document just said all the sulfides were no longer
present. I told my builder, KB, that strontium was also found in my
home. But the letter did not even mention that testing. Upon moving out
a second time to see if my symptoms subsided, I contacted the FL Health
Dept. to investigate. They did and said their meter was not making
repeated, fast beeps so there was not strontium left in it. What do I
do now? I am back and forth to my house, but feeling insecure. Do I now
have to pay more money to have my home tested again? A home that Bank
of America is foreclosing on anyway? These are my most recent concerns
and situations. I am a teacher, but have been planning to retire soon.
My pay checks are losing 3 percent this year, due to a Florida law, and
we have been told that another 2 percent may begin to be added to this
come January. I am single and a mother of 2 grown children, but I do
help one as I can. In fact, last week, she asked if I would be a co-
signer for her on a student loan so she can start school again, and I
sadly had to tell her what is going on, and that Bank of America has
totally ruined my credit status. I instead will be able to do nothing
as far as helping myself or my children for a very long time. In fact,
I am 64 now. I try so hard to deal with the emotional pain and stress.
Knowing now that my HOA can also foreclose on me and have a judgment
against me, even though I am paying my HOA, causes more stress and
embarrassment. The development I am in, KB Sunset Pointe Townhomes have
most remediated homeowners not returning, and renting. Also, I saw last
week that still another home is vacated and is beginning to be gutted
More information and how this began:
*In July, 2007, I purchased my townhome in KB Homes'' Sunset Pointe
Townhomes, Lot 3, Block 27, as a 30 yr. fixed mortgage with Countrywide
as being the noted lender. It was a Freddie Mac. Purchase: 135,000.
*Started with strange health problems: rashes on my face; feeling
my chest ache; sudden weight loss for no apparent reason; cough;
terrible jaw and head pain, dry, burny eyes; mouth always feeling like
it is burned inside. I also had cramps in legs and stomach at times. I
complained of blacking out twice.
*Nov. 2009: Service on home A/C reveals multiple holes, leaks and
copper tubing is black. Kross Inspection confirms contaminated drywall
in December, 2009.
*Neighbor told me to call Bank of America for a forbearance, which
I did and was told to continue paying about $276/mo. escrow.
*Signed to have KB remediate my home, with agreement giving me per
diem to move out and back in, pay for rental, and other living
expenses. Told I would be provided testing and a certification that my
home would be safe upon completion. I was told that I would also get 3
reports during the process and would have access to the information
about the drywall as they pulled it from my home. (I was never given
this.) I was told that I could still sue KB or any entity for health
but not for other reasons about the damage.
During this time, I also gave the Consumer Product & Safety
Commission my information on this disaster. I also notified the Florida
Health Dept. In addition, I went to my physician, Dr. Weiss, and told
her that I had been exposed to 2 toxic gases, and wanted to have her
check my health. But she told me that she didn't know what to do, and
*Upon leaving my home in Nov., 2009, I noticed the terrible pitting
and corrosion on metal bathroom hooks. Jewelry was ruined. When I make
calls to inquire what would be safe to remove in my home and what I
would need to discard, I was told by both the FL Health Dept. and the
Consumer Product and Safety Commission that they did not know the
answer to that. What I found was just from my own research on the
*My living elsewhere, transportation, faxing, calls etc. were
solely paid by me from November, 2009-April 10, 2010. I took little out
of my home, washed clothing according to Internet directions, aired out
things I took for days, but most, I was afraid to touch anything, and
afraid to go to my home to take out. If the metal hooks were so pitted
and corroded, and holes were made by these gases, what possibly was it
doing to me?
**2010--contacted my Homeowner's insurance. Told they were
protected from claims by a 31-year-old air pollution law. When I
pointed out this was not air pollution, he said still protected.
Insisted that I still let them do a second inspection on my home,
saying it would help me have more information for down the road. This
was done by Burton Investigation.
*Finally, April 10, 2010, KB Homes is ready to have me move out so
they can begin remediation. Upon moving out, there was still no
information on what could be safely removed and reused. I therefore,
removed and discarded most of my contents. What I was told by Mr.
Wallace at the FL Health Dept. was that he would not save any thick
porous items, like mattresses, metal things, appliances, sofas, chairs,
etc. I even threw out a year-old TV! Whatever I replaced had to be my
expense! Everything I kept left me great concern but I aired it out for
a long while.
*May, 2010, receive notice from homeowner's insurance, St. John's
that they are not renewing my contract. Even though I had been calling
my insurance agent to give an update almost monthly, they say
``Homeowner unknown 1 yr.'' Actual cancellation July 2010. Previously,
my building manager and I had sent a letter, giving approximate date
when remediation would be done, and details, but to no avail.
*June 2010, BOA continues forbearance, and even with telling me in
July that they need to force Lender's Insurance on me, (Redacted] kept
telling me not to worry--all would be worked out upon completion of my
home, getting the letter of certification my home was safe, and getting
new homeowner's insurance. A loan modification would then begin to be
in place. Not to worry.
*Feb. 2011--My home is completed. right after I was given Lender's
Insurance, I was notified by Tina Calderon, Bank of America, that
Isabel would no longer handle my case--Tina would!
*Although health improved while out of my home for remediation, I
had been admitted to Lakeland Regional Hospital on Dec. 25, 2009
because my throat and breathing felt like it was closing off. At this
time I was told the lung X-rays showed signs of COPD. This has not
changed thus far.
*When two members of the Consumer Product and Safety Commission
came to meet with ``victims'' in Sarasota, FL, even though over a year
had gone by, or longer, they still lowered their heads toward the floor
when asked our questions, and kept repeating, ``We don't have any
answers yet on that'', or ``we didn't see any reason to investigate
that further''. That is a disgrace! So many sick, and perhaps some have
died (even 12 infants in Ft. Bragg), and they feel no investigation is
needed? An injustice and a disgrace!
*Health questions and concerns have remained unaddressed by 3 of my
doctors over the past 2 plus years. They have stared at me and said ``I
don't know what to do for you.'' I even had one leave the room, come
back 10 minutes later to inform me that she looked up ``hydrogen
sulfide on her computer but the only thing she found were lawyer
advertisements.'' Again, a disgrace.
*I am 64, a teacher for about 30 years intermittently, hold a
Master's degree, with a small retirement savings. I have raised my
children, helped them in every way I could, and love them dearly. I
plan on leaving my teaching career, but now I have my life in great
jeopardy, with health fears, a closely timed foreclosure, and probably
an impending bankruptcy. I have to still wonder, because of recent
health, if my home is safe. Did I purchase this home with any knowledge
of this disaster? Did I do something to cause all of the following
hardship and disaster? Will I end up with more losses? This is unjust,
and I will not stop speaking out for myself and for all the other
victims until there are answers to our questions and justice is served
by giving us aid to move forward, with or without our homes.
Builder: KB Homes Lender: Countrywide/Bank of America/Freddie Mac
Home: Lot 3, Block 27 Sunset Pointe Townhomes
It's difficult to express the devastating impact living in a toxic
home has had on our lives, home, health and retirement. We all have
been affected and need our government to step up look past the
lobbyists and help the families that have been devastated by Toxic
Drywall; both American and Chinese.
We purchased our Lennar home new and moved-in Oct. 2004.
Within weeks of us moving in we smelled rotten eggs and called the
gas company twice who came out and checked for gas leaks but found
But we have tests that show toxic drywall directly linking to our
We had experts test the drywall twice and the test were positive
for sulfur and strontium both times. The experts pointed out signs of
copper corrosion on the water heater, AC unit and electrical in the
walls; noting it is less than the higher humidity climates but that we
definitely had copper that was blackening. Additionally we've had
electrical components, appliances and computer equipment, smoke
detectors, and alarm system repeatedly fail or sound randomly with no
Our home has no Chinese markings but Blanks and confirmed American
Gypsum and Georgia Pacific with the following markings:
Georgia Pacific--Tough Rock
American Gypsum--Albuquerque NM ``350 Crew 1 7/13/2004'',
Unidentified markings ``250 7/11/04 H. Smith 12:12''.
Unidentified markings that have Spanish words ``1 Pieza''
``2 Por Paquett''
Unidentified markings that are stamped ``CAN'' possibly for
The fact that we found 5 different brands/markings in our home is
an indication the builder was getting multiple shipments of drywall
from different sources. It is clear it was not all shipped at once from
the same place.
The problem we face is we have no idea what manufacturers Lennar
Homes used and Lennar Homes is refusing to remediate. Lennar Homes came
to inspect our home and they did air quality tests and then refused to
release the results or address our concerns. They have been provided
our positive test results and they continue to deny us remediation and
discriminate against us (as they are doing remediation elsewhere)
because in Nevada they claim there is not a problem.
Georgia Pacific also came to our home, and they took a sample and
said they would test it but when we asked for results they ultimately
told us they were instructed by their attorney's not to speak to us.
The health of our family has seriously deteriorated while living in
the Lennar home.
We were seen by an environmental toxicologist Dr. Robert Harrison
(UCSF). He confirmed we had Sulfur poisoning at levels of 5000 mg daily
compared to the average American exposure of just 2 mg daily. We have
long term exposure to Sulfur Dioxide and Hydrogen Sulfate, which has
caused long term health problems.
We also confirmed we both have the blood tests results showing
Strontium (Jason at 38.2 ng/ml and Olivia's at 26.7 ng/ml) due to long
term exposure to Strontium.
Our water heater and PEX plastic water lines were so discolored and
had absorbed so much of the toxic gases our water turned orange and we
are not on well water. The city water right up to our drive way tested
at perfect levels, yet in our home, our water tested Sulfur at 200,000
ppm and Strontium at 4500 ppm which is 5000x higher than the average
Additionally, we've met with the CPSC and have had our test results
reviewed by both the CPSC and the CDC. The CPSC has a formal report
from their investigation on our home. The CDC provided us a guideline
and based on the test results in our home, we exceeded acceptable
levels of these toxins by 1000 times or more. They referred us to DR.
Robert Harrison, the toxicologist at UCSF.
Our bodies were busy fighting unexplained rashes, bloody noses,
constant sinus infections, migraine headaches, sore throats, vomiting,
burning eyes, blurred vision, memory loss, fatigue, slurred speak, loss
of coordination, loss of vision, unexplained nerve damage in Jason's
face, and ultimately unexplained lesions found on Jason's brain.
We spent countless hours and thousands of dollars in medical
expenses for doctor's appointments, emergency room visits, tests and
prescriptions trying to diagnose and treat unexplained symptoms.
Health Issues include:
Chronic migraines and light sensitivity
Chronic sinus infections and daily
Laryngitis (for over 6 months
Lesions throughout brain
Paralysis on his face (nerve damage)
Loss of vision
Loss of taste
Jumbled of words
Loss of motor function
Red burning eyes
Difficult to keep eyes open
Burning sore throat (Choking)
Shortness of breath/Chest pain
Nausea/Vomiting and choking
Digestive and upper and lower GI health problems (constant
Constant tearing eye
Growths on Vocal Cords (requiring surgery)
The neurologist knows of the toxic drywall test and the Strontium
heavy metal poisoning and he advised we vacate the home immediately. We
received the same advice from the ER doctor while my wife was treated
for a migraine.
Our health issues have devastated our health so severely we've shut
down our businesses as we cannot function at the same level we used to.
We have no way of knowing what the long term medical damages are, but
we are very scared as we see the deterioration and know the damage this
has done to our bodies. We fear for our future.
In Nevada new homes were built at a rapid pace of 35,000--45,000
new home per year during the period from 2001 to 2006 with the pace
slowing in 2006-2007 but the builders have a lot of clout here as they
have contributed to the economy greatly over the past decade.
Additionally we have information and photos on our website http://
We ask that our government take action to protect us (it's
citizens) and make us whole again by holding the builders, suppliers,
and manufacturers liable for the damage they have caused so many
Thank in advance for your time and consideration.
My husband served 20 years in the AF, then had another career after
that. I retired from DoD in Feb 2007 after 27+ years. We lived in many
places and were looking forward to settling down in our forever house
in warm, sunny, Florida living on a canal where we could have a boat.
Our builder went out of business after 30 years of building homes in
the SW FL area a few days after we moved into our ``dream'' home. We
started receiving dunning phone calls from sub-contractors who said
they hadn't been paid, followed by certified letters. Every time the
mailperson pulled up and got out of her car, I was about ready to bawl.
After a year and a half, we had those legal situations taken care of
and figured we could finally start enjoying life. About a year later,
our air conditioner wouldn't turn on.
We had a home maintenance agreement and they came out and replaced
the coils. They told us they'd fix them once, but we had defective
drywall and they wouldn't do it again. Our entire house is filled with
ProWall drywall--all Made in China. We're the lucky ones, if anyone
with CDW can be called lucky. Our house doesn't smell, and we haven't
had anywhere near as many things go kaput as a lot of people have. Our
son's house which is 40+ years old has bright copper wire, our house
has black copper wire. Both my husband and I have rashes that appeared
after we moved in and won't go totally away--mine so bad I regularly
see the dermatologist. She keeps trying different ointments/creams. Not
sure if the drywall is the culprit or not. The value of our home for
tax purposes is $0.0. Our home equity loan has been frozen. We can't
sell without remediating (or we'd have to practically give it away and
still be stuck with a $200K mortgage). Our lawyer has told us that
since our builder is out of business and we don't have Knauf drywall,
we're going to have trouble getting anything from the class action
lawsuit, and we definitely should not count on getting enough to
remediate completely. Oh the Golden Years. How they suck!!
Prepared Statement of Robert D. Gary of Gary Naegele & Theado, LLC
I want to thank the Committee for focusing its attention on the
devastating problem that has been caused by the off-gassing of drywall
which has forced people to abandon their homes, often with catastrophic
financial and personal consequences.
My name is Robert D. Gary and my law firm, Gary Naegele & Theado,
LLC, together with the undersigned attorneys, represent [redacted] and
others whose homes are uninhabitable because they contain not Chinese
drywall but drywall domestically produced by American companies. I have
represented the [recacted] since early 2009.
My concern is that innocent homeowners who have domestically
produced defective drywall in their homes have been poorly served by
the very Federal agency whose sole purpose is to protect consumers from
defective products. To some degree, and at the urging of [redacted],
the Consumer Product Safety Commission undertook a much delayed study
of ``non-Chinese manufactured drywall''. That study referred to
domestically produced drywall with the curious ambiguous description of
``often referred to as domestic drywall by consumers.''
The critically important issue before the Consumer Products Safety
Commission should be ``is American-made drywall exhibiting corrosion
problems?'' It is beyond dispute that the now notorious Chinese drywall
is destroying homes. Our American homeowners deserve a full study into
whether domestically manufactured drywall has also experienced
corrosion caused by the drywall in their homes. Rather than address
this issue, the CPSC chose instead to side-step the question in its
report issued on April 15, 2011.
For purposes of its report, the CPSC tested eleven homes which
``the homeowners self-reported were constructed with domestically
produced drywall.'' See Exhibit A, attached hereto, at page 2. The
results of this study were anxiously awaited by those homeowners who
clearly had corrosion but no evidence of Chinese drywall in their
homes. Nine of these eleven homes were confirmed to have ``evidence of
blackening of copper wiring or cooling coils. Water was eliminated as a
possible source of the indoor corrosion.
Prior to the issuance of this report, I, along with my colleagues
and Pamela Gilbert, a former Executive Director of the Consumer Product
Safety Commission, met on April 5, 2011 with the Commission. We urged
at that meeting that the Commission test for sulfur-reducing bacteria
which could have established that the drywall, and not another source,
was causing interior corrosion in the tested homes. The Commission
declined to do this testing or to do the well-established chamber
testing of the drywall. Presumably the issue was the cost of the
The issue of whether American-manufactured drywall was causing
interior corrosion was and remains a vitally important question to the
American homeowner. Yet the CPSC failed to make the most basic
determination in its testing of the eleven homes. The CPSC made no
effort to confirm whether the drywall they were testing was in fact
American-manufactured. Instead the CPSC relied on self-reporting from
the occupants of the homes that the drywall was constructed solely with
domestically-manufactured product. It would have been a simple
procedure to confirm the identity of the manufacturer of the drywall
the CPSC was testing. All domestic drywall has run codes printed on the
back which would have identified the time, place and manufacturer. The
failure to take this simple step rendered an expensive study all but
useless because it never segregated out the origin of the drywall it
was testing. As counsel for the Brinckus, I can state categorically
that their home has no Chinese drywall, yet because of interior
corrosion, it is uninhabitable.
Rather than providing protection for the consumer, the net result
of the CPSC study instead provided cover to the drywall manufacturers
who cite the studies of the CPSC in its press releases to confirm the
safety of its drywall products. I have attached two such examples as
Exhibits B and C. National Gypsum has repeatedly used the flawed study
of the Consumer Product Commission to discredit any claims about their
drywall and even specific victims including George and Brenda Brincku.
For example, note the following from a National Gypsum press release:
CPSC Report Determines National Gypsum Drywall in Brincku Home
is Not Defective: In April 2011, the Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) released a report on testing of domestic
drywall as part of a broader investigation into problems
associated with defective Chinese drywall. The report
determined that the National Gypsum drywall in the [redacted]
home was not defective.
A critically flawed study by an agency whose mandate is to protect
the consumer is being used to discredit the very consumers the CPSC is
supposed to protect. The most casual visit to the Brincku home will
quickly reveal that the home has been destroyed by something that is
corroding copper in the home. The Brincku's attorneys have confirmed
the presence of sulfur-reducing bacteria while the manufacturer of the
drywall suggests the problem arises from the well water.
The CPSC has eliminated well water as a possible source of
corrosion. If, in fact, as the domestic drywall manufacturers allege,
the well water in Florida is so corrosive that it can destroy copper
through air born transmission the problem for Florida and its real
estate market extends far beyond the confined problem of defective
drywall. It would mean not only has there been a catastrophic failure
by those agencies that regulate Florida water quality but the real
estate industry with equally devastating consequences would have to
alert home owners to this menace emanating from the well water. Neither
of these concerns will be realized because the attack on Florida's well
water is a red herring.
In conclusion, a separate study of the potential problems with
American drywall remains regrettably an open question despite the
considerable costs of investigating drywall-related problems. The
CPSC's explanation that it did not want to do extensive removal of
drywall begs the question and could have been eliminated by testing for
sulfur-reducing bacteria. This simple test would have established that
hydrogen sulfide is being produced by drywall as a waste product of
We, the undersigned, urge that the agencies of the Federal
Government not close the door on problems created by domestically
manufactured drywall before even the most basic questions have been
answered. At the very least, we ask that the Consumer Product Safety
Commission confirm the origin of the drywall from the eleven homes
Thank you for your consideration and please submit this testimony
for inclusion in the Congressional Record.
Robert D. Gary, Esq.,
Gary, Naegele & Theado, LLC.
Gregory S. Weiss, Esq.,
Leopold Kuvin, P.A.
Seth R. Lesser,
Klafter, Olsen & Lesser, LLP.
Charles J. LaDuca.
April 15, 2011
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Staff Summary of Contractor's
Evaluation of Homes Reported to be Constructed with Domestic Drywall
\1\ This document was prepared by CPSC staff and has not been
reviewed or approved by, and may not necessarily reflect the views of,
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) contracted with
Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc. (EH&E) to conduct an
investigation of a few homes where consumers have reported health and
corrosion problems and where they also reported that the homes were
built with what they identified as non-Chinese manufactured drywall
(often referred to as ``domestic drywall'' by consumers). Although
these reports alleging problems due to non-Chinese drywall represent a
very small fraction of the total reported incidents, the CPSC
investigated them as part of its overall investigation to gain a
comprehensive understanding of the reported problems.
Earlier investigations conducted by EH&E under contract with the
CPSC identified a link between problem drywall in a home and increased
levels of hydrogen sulfide in indoor air and increased rates of copper
and silver corrosion. They also found that orthorhombic sulfur (S8) \2\
was a useful marker for identifying problematic drywall (EH&E, 2010a
and 2010b). These findings, in part, formed the basis of the Federal
Interagency Task Force on Drywall's Interim Guidance for Identification
of Homes with Corrosion from Problem Drywall (CPSC/HUD,2010).\3\
\2\ Also referred to as ``elemental sulfur.''
\3\ Recent investigations indicate that the years should be
expanded to include 2009. This has been reflected in an update of the
Identification Guidance, March 18, 2011.
This guidance includes two steps: (1) a threshold inspection of the
home to identify blackening of copper electrical wiring and/or air
conditioning evaporator coils and the installation of drywall in the
time period of concern; and (2) the verification of corroborating
evidence. In accordance with the Identification Guidance, either two or
four pieces of corroborating evidence are required to identify a home
as one with corrosion from problem drywall. Homes built or renovated
between 2001 and 2004 require at least four pieces of corroborating
evidence, and homes built or renovated between 2005 and 2009 require at
least two pieces of corroborating evidence.
Corroborating evidence can be: the detection of elevated S8 levels
in samples of drywall taken from the home; corrosive conditions; the
formation of copper sulfide on copper coupons placed in the homes for
14 to 30 days; visual observation of markings, indicating the origin of
the drywall; elevated levels of specific sulfide compounds from chamber
testing of drywall samples; or corrosion of copper metal coupons to
form copper sulfide when exposed in a chamber with drywall samples.
CPSC staff contracted with EH&E to perform this study to assess
whether the objective criteria reportedly associated with problem
imported drywall and outlined in the field-based component of the
Identification Guidance were present in complaint homes allegedly
constructed of domestic drywall. CPSC staff also wanted to compare the
data collected from these homes with results obtained in the initial,
large-scale investigation of homes with problem drywall (referred to as
the ``51-Home Study''). This comparison is important because the 51-
Home Study was the largest study, to date, conducted on problem drywall
homes using consistent and rigorous testing parameters. Testing
performed as a part of the present study was conducted with methods
identical to the 51-Home Study to ensure comparability. In this way,
the results of the present study on 11 homes could be placed in context
with the results of the larger study. CPSC staff asked that EH&E:
characterize the indoor environment in consumer complaint
homes that were reported to the CPSC to be constructed with
domestic drywall, and
compare the drywall composition, indoor air quality, and
corrosion conditions in these homes to corresponding parameters
observed and measured in residences in the 51-Home Study.
This study, like the earlier 51-Home Study (EH&E, 2010a) was
intentionally designed to identify source characteristics of drywall
and characterize the indoor environment in the home where the complaint
was reported. Thus, the study was conducted as a field study at the
home, and chamber emissions testing and chamber-based corrosion testing
were not performed as part of the suite of tests.
CPSC staff selected 11 homes for the study. Homeowners self-
reported that their homes were constructed with domestically produced
drywall; and before undertaking this study, CPSC staff performed in-
depth investigations to remove homes from the study where Chinese
markings were clearly present. CPSC staff selected the homes, located
in Florida (n=9), North Carolina (n=1), and Pennsylvania (n=1), from
drywall-related consumer incident reports that the CPSC received
between December 2008 and April 2010. Staff developed a ranking system
to guide the current study, which like the 51-Home Study, considered
location, date of construction or restoration, severity and extent of
reported health effects, and corrosion. Staff also considered consumer-
reported manufacturer of drywall as a factor in the home selection, as
well as consumer willingness to participate in the study.
Between September 20, 2010 and September 29, 2010, EH&E field teams
visited the homes and scanned multiple locations on the walls in each
home with an x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer as a screening tool to
aid in detecting possible markers of problem drywall; collected drywall
samples to analyze for orthorhombic sulfur; inspected ground wires and
air handling units for corrosion; conducted air exchange, temperature,
and humidity measurements; deployed passive air samplers for measuring
indoor air concentrations of hydrogen sulfide and formaldehyde; placed
strips of copper and silver metal called corrosion classification
coupons in the homes to measure the rates and types of metal corrosion;
and analyzed water samples to rule out alternate sources of sulfides in
the homes. The full report can be found on www.drywallresponse.gov. Key
results are detailed below and presented in Table 6.2 of the full
report, which is attached to this summary.
Nine of the 11 homes (Homes A-E and H-K) had evidence of
blackening of copper wiring or cooling coils and were
constructed/renovated in the relevant date range (2001-2009).
However, homes investigated to date, impacted by problem
drywall, meet a common set of parameters, not all of which were
observed in each of the nine homes.
Five of the 11 homes (Homes A-E) met the criteria for
identification of homes with problem drywall in accordance with
the Identification Guidance, including elevated rates of
corrosion and elevated concentrations of S8 in drywall samples.
Hydrogen sulfide was detected in the air in only three of the
five homes (Homes A, B, and D) at levels that were similar to
those levels found in problem drywall homes in the 51-Home
In five homes (Homes A-E), indoor corrosion rates exceeded
outdoor corrosion rates by as much as nine times. These results
are consistent with the results found in the 51-Home Study.
The presence and percentage of drywall samples with source
markers (S8 and strontium/carbonate) in Homes A-E varied by
Two of the 11 homes (Homes F and G) do not have the
characteristics of homes with problem drywall consistent with
the characteristics found in the 51-Home Study or in accordance
with the guidance for identifying problem drywall homes.
Four of the homes (Homes H-K) had a corrosive environment
based on elevated rates of corrosion, as determined by the
visual observation rating system and mixed findings of
corrosion on the copper and silver coupons between and within
each home. The S8 marker was not found in the drywall samples
from any of these four homes.
In four homes (Homes H-K), outdoor corrosion rates were
sometimes similar to the indoor rates.
All of the homes in this study had air exchange rates that
are typical of North American residences.
Formaldehyde levels in the 11 homes were consistent with
levels found in recently constructed homes and results of the
51-Home Study and were not associated with the drywall.
Sulfides were not detected in any water samples from any of
the 11 homes and, therefore, were not likely a potential
contributing factor to measured indoor corrosion rates.
Average humidity and temperature conditions in the 11 homes
were typically within the ranges recommended for summer months
by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air
Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The temperature and humidity
levels were generally higher in homes in Florida in comparison
to the two homes (Homes F and G) located in North Carolina and
Other Issues and Study Limitations
Information that these homes were constructed solely with
domestically manufactured drywall as opposed to Chinese drywall
was obtained by self-report from the occupants. CPSC staff and
EH&E were not able to confirm independently that all of the
drywall in the homes was produced domestically. This would have
required extensive removal of the drywall and destructive
testing of the residences.
An elevated rate of corrosion in homes is not sufficient, by
itself, to conclude that the corrosion is associated with
problem drywall in the home. Outdoor corrosion rates may be the
source of indoor corrosion in some of these homes (Homes H-K).
Or, the corrosion source might originate from something other
than the drywall.
In its report, EH&E suggested that additional chamber
emissions and chamber-based corrosion studies may help identify
whether the drywall is the source of corrosion versus some
other factor or source inside or outside of five of the subject
homes (Homes H-K). While CPSC staff understands the reasoning
for the recommendation of additional study, the CPSC has
determined that due to the relatively limited number of homes
affected, the uncertainty concerning the drywall's origins,
agency resource constraints, and that any findings of problem
drywall would not change the current Task Force
recommendations, it cannot authorize further expenditure or
study on this issue at this time.
While a sufficient number of drywall samples from each home
were analyzed for elemental sulfur (S8), and the selection of
samples to analyze was based on the presence of a secondary
marker (strontium) to increase the likelihood of selecting a
sample with elevated elemental sulfur, it is possible that,
even with the robust study design, problem drywall with
elemental sulfur exists on a small number of boards in Homes H-
K; however, it was not detected.
There is a possibility that some problem drywall, including
domestic drywall, may have different characteristics from the
originally defined problem drywall. For example, there may be
differing mechanisms of chemical off-gassing or compositions of
source materials; or S8 might be a good marker for a particular
type of problem drywall (for example, problematic Chinese
drywall) but not all problem drywall. If that is the case, this
study would not have been able to identify this drywall as
problematic because it had materially different characteristics
from the problem drywall studied to date.
Based on the characterization of the drywall and indoor
environments of the 11 homes tested, comparison of the results with
existing data from homes classified as problem drywall homes (51-Home
Study), evaluation of the test results in relation to the
Identification Guidance, and EH&E's extensive experience in conducting
investigations of problem drywall homes, EH&E reported that five of the
homes in the study (Homes A-E) have drywall that is consistent with
problem drywall. However, because EH&E was unable to confirm
independently that all of the drywall in the homes was produced
domestically, and without detailed documentation of the drywall's
origin, or without damaging the homes through extensive removal of the
homes' drywall, it is not possible to conclude that only domestic
drywall is present throughout the homes.
Four of the homes (Homes H-K) had a corrosive indoor environment,
but the test results were not consistent with previous findings related
to the identification of problem drywall. It appears that the indoor
corrosive environment might be influenced by outdoor corrosive
conditions. Based on this study, other indoor sources, or the presence
of a limited amount of problem drywall, cannot be ruled out as a source
of the indoor corrosive environment. Conclusions regarding the
potential of domestic drywall to be problematic cannot be confirmed at
this time without further extensive investigation and detailed
documentation of the origin of the drywall in these homes.
EH&E, 2010a. Final Report on an Indoor Environmental Quality
Assessment of Residences Containing Chinese Drywall.
EH&E, 2010b. Identification of Problematic Drywall: Source Markers
and Detection Methods.
From ``Evaluation of Homes Reported to be Constructed with Domestic
Drywall,'' April 12, 2011, Environmental Health & Engineering.
I am writing to tell you about the nightmare my wife and I have
been living since discovering in 2009 our home contains contaminated
Defective Chinese Drywall. We are unable to attend Tuesday's hearing
but hope that our story can be shared.
After 23 years of marriage and living in the same home for more
than 19 years my wife and I felt we were in a secure financial position
to build the home of our dreams on 11 acres in the County. I am a
contractor by trade and at the time owned a successful construction
company. We purchase the land in 2005 and began to design the home. In
late 2006 we broke ground on what we had planned to be our final home
which would later be a great financial investment to us in our
retirement years. In July 2007 we closed on the $402,000.00 mortgage
and began to enjoy our new County lifestyle. This home was our dream
over 4,500.00 sq ft appraising at closing for over 550K and we couldn't
believe we did this and seemed to have done it all right. In early to
mid 2009, we began to start having issues with first our security
system panel, which effected our inter-come system and security
cameras. Then 2 televisions went out. Small appliances such as 2-3
coffee makers, toasters, and other strange electrical things. The small
mini central A/C unit that fed our oldest sons room went out. We began
to see increased electric bills and realized our other 2 central units
were working very hard and running constantly. There was a strong smell
in the house when we got home in the evenings, and my wife's jewelry
began to discolor. Being a contractor I had begun to hear rumor of the
Chinese drywall. I did some checking with the wires in our home and
found that they were corroded. I did some further research on the
Internet and began to realize what was going on. It was probably 2
months before I got the courage to tell my wife. She was just 19 and I
was 21 when we married. Like all couples we had dreamed for years of
building a home like this. Finally in our 40s we felt we were in a
position to do just that. Our home had been featured in a local
magazine for it's design, style and features. Now I had to tell her our
home was basically worthless. I learned in my research that the drywall
affects metals; our home is built entirely out of metal studs including
the trusses. All I could envision was that the home would have to be
demolished! I finally told her. I can actually say it was probably one
of the lowest points in my life. I was a builder, how could I have
missed this? How will I be able to afford to move my family, and do we
let the house go back to the bank? I had never had to foreclose on
mortgage what would that do to our finances? How am I going to take
care of this for my family? I felt as if I had disappointed my wife and
let my entire family down. On top of all this, as the economy was
failing so was my construction business.
Once my wife's initial shock wore off, she began to do her own
research. Her biggest fear was/is what are the health effects on the
kids. Our oldest son who is 22 constantly suffered from sinus
infections. He has now moved out and the infections have stopped. Our
13 year old son was diagnosed with allergies about 8 months after we
moved in the home. He spends most months congested. And now takes
monthly injections. We constantly wonder is it related to the drywall?
We have a 12 year old daughter, is she being effected in a way we have
yet to see? Center for Disease Control says ``no health effects'' . . .
this stuff turns metal black, kills appliances and electronics, and we
are supposed to believe that? In October of 2009 we learned of a law-
firm handling the defective drywall in our area. We contacted them, and
after a consultation, they scheduled us for the Environmental testing.
In November 2009 it was confirmed, we had the defective drywall. The
markings on our boards were not clear enough to immediately determine
our manufacturer. We were told there are suspected 5-6 Chinese
manufacturers. My wife and I were pretty much in a fog the rest of the
year and into early 2010. Not only were we trying to figure out what to
do about the house as we watched things unfold in the news and on the
Internet about drywall, my business was not getting any better. I had
worked in construction for 25+ years owning my own business since 2003
and now I couldn't land any jobs for my company. I had to cut my salary
back to try and keep my business a float. Eventually by late March, I
had to lay off all of my employees. I laid myself off and went on
unemployment in May of 2010. I tried to find work in my industry all
the time bidding jobs for my company in hopes of landing just one job.
In April of 2010 the BP Oil Spill impacted the Gulf Coast bringing
further damage to our towns failing economy. My wife works full time
but her salary really did nothing more than cover health benefits for
the family. It was time we notified our mortgage company and asked them
for a modification. By this time, the appointed court in New Orleans to
oversee the drywall cases had come up with a remediation plan. I
obtained estimates in accordance with the remediation protocol to
provide to the bank to show them what it would cost to renovate the
house. The estimates were close to the mortgage amount of 400K. We
notified our property appraiser of our County, our home that once
appraised on the tax rolls for 445K was reduced down to 218K. All of
this documentation was provided to the mortgage company along with the
testing results, letter from our attorney financial statements from our
business and personal accounts. We pleaded with them to do something to
help us, stating that we were willing to try and keep the house in
hopes that the economy would turn around and our government would step
in and make the Chinese do the right thing and fix our home. With the
assistance of our attorney we tried to convenience the bank that they
didn't want this house that it would benefit them to modify and keep
some type of payment coming in rather than have another house on their
books that they more than likely could not sell. The response we got
was we could run 30 days late but that was it. Even the government
loans that were being offered to individuals in crisis with their
mortgage were not an option to us. So we made a decision to stop making
the mortgage payment put that money back and let them kick us out. By
not making the mortgage payment we would stop depleting our savings and
hopefully be in a position to rent somewhere when we were eventually
forced out of the house. In a last ditch effort, we hired an attorney
to try and fight the foreclosure, you know try and prove the note etc.
in hopes to buy 6 months or so. Our first mediation rolled around in
early October of 2010. Our attorney re-submitted the documents we had
previously provided to the bank in early 2010 adding his legal verbiage
which we paid for of course. We decided not to have the attorney attend
mediation. He basically told us the mortgage company didn't care that
the house was of no value we were just another number they would write
off. So we decided to attend without him and go through the emotions .
. . after all we would have had to pay him to be there and he was not
encouraging. Well needless to say the mediation was a joke. Our
mortgage service company is PHH Mortgage out of New Jersey. A local
credit union Pen Air holds the note. There was a mediator, an attorney
for the bank and my wife and I. My wife was crying uncontrollably the
entire time. A bank representative was supposed to call in for a
conference call at a certain time and they were late. Their attorney
finally had to call them some 45 minutes later only to get a person who
said they had to fill in, that the original person who was listed on
our documents to attend, was called into a meeting. Needless to say
this person was not prepared. Their own attorney who was in the room
with us was clearly frustrated. When we were asked why we were not
making our payments we told them a combination of the problem with the
drywall and a reduction of income. The representative on the phone said
what is Chinese Drywall? As I tried to explain it to her she said she
just Google'd it and couldn't believe what she was reading! ``What a
devastating position to find yourselves in'' she stated. She further
said she did not see where we had submitted any of the documentation to
them regarding the drywall and then their attorney spoke up and said
``you have to have it, I have it in my packet that you all sent to
me``! Finally she said she was in no position to make a decision, that
she felt that Pen Air Credit Union had to make a decision on the
modification. By this time the mediator was totally frustrated and
called the meeting adjourned citing that no decisions could be made
because the appropriate parties were not present. He ordered the
attorney to reschedule and have a representative from Pen Air attend
the next mediation. That next mediation did not take place till mid
November 2010. In attendance, a representative for Pen Air, the same
attorney, my wife and I. The Pen Air representative started the meeting
by saying very kindly, ``we had no idea about the drywall``! ``We are a
home town lending institution and are in the business of keeping people
in their home.'' We are not a construction company in the business of
renovating homes ``. . . the Board has reviewed your file and we are
going to do what ever we can to keep you in your home.'' Basically what
she was saying is we don't want to be stuck with that toxic home! If
you people are stupid enough to stay in it and pay us to do it we will
take your money! The meeting was adjourned and we were told they would
work up the figures and re-schedule the meeting. The next mediation was
the end of November 2010. By this time I had found work in my industry
with another company. It was not the salary I had once had, but it was
not in the poverty level of unemployment either. It put us in a
position to really be able to give a firm figure to the bank on what we
could try and modify to. The modification terms proposed by the bank
were to take our interest rate down from 6 percent to 2 percent for the
next 5 years stating they hoped by that time the drywall litigation
would be settled. That reduced our payment by about $1,100.00 per
month. And they would do that by adding only $47,000.00 to our loan . .
. great deal huh?! Reluctant, my wife and I signed the note believing
that certainly this issue would resolve, the economy would get back to
normal and our dream life would go on.
Here we are 1 year after modification and not one step closer to
getting the house repaired. Our drywall case is a bit unique. I have no
builder to sue, I was the builder. The courts have ruled I cannot file
this as a claim on my insurance company. I purchased my drywall from
our local Port, Pate Stevedore. Just this month, we received a letter
from our attorney telling us they have decided not to sue Pate
Stevedore for a number of reasons the most important being ``they do
not have the insurance or assets to pay a judgment in our favor.'' It
was determined that our drywall manufacturer is Taishan Gypsum Co.,
Ltd. The letter we just received from our attorney stated, ``we are
continuing to pursue every avenue possible to bring that company
(Taishan) to justice in the American court system but we face a number
of obstacles, not the least of which is their challenge to jurisdiction
because they do not have minimum contacts with our Nation. They further
state this is a battle we will wage for some time in the court system
and through political and other channels. Wage for some time! Nothing I
have heard is encouraging to my wife and I. We don't have years to
invest in this political battle. We cannot understand our own
government not stepping up to help us. My wife and I are doing
everything possible to try and keep this house and not become another
number in the mortgage crisis. We are trying to keep up our end of the
deal despite every obstacle we have faced. Please we urge the
government to step in and help us! When you look at the scheme of this
drywall crisis the government gives away billions of dollars. There are
just an estimated 10,000.00 homes effected by this drywall, just a drop
in the bucket don't you think? We should not have to suffer because our
own government allowed China to import to us this defective product and
as we all are aware of many, many more defective products. I thank you
for your time and encourage you all to help make this right for us.
Chinese Drywall and Cancer
I am an Engineer, Shipbuilder, Husband, and Father of 2. In 2006,
my wife and I upgraded from a starter home to a beautiful, four-bedroom
home in a family-oriented neighborhood. The home was sold by a
reputable developer (East-West Partners) and built by a reputable
builder (Orleans Homebuilders, based in Philadelphia).
In July of 2009, we initially suspected that we had Chinese Drywall
after our 9th air-conditioner evaporator failure, and in September, our
builder cut into our walls and confirmed it. In October 2009, an X-ray
fluorescence evaluation confirmed all walls and ceilings on the second
floor were Chinese Drywall, all ceilings on the first floor were
Chinese Drywall, and about 25 percent of the walls on the first floor
were Chinese Drywall. Our builder promised to stand by his work, and
would commence remediation ``after the holidays''. After some stalling
tactics in January and February of 2010, Orleans Homebuilders declared
bankruptcy on March 1, 2010. We were on our own.
A contractor provided an estimate to repair the home, which,
coupled with moving expenses approached $150,000. Both my wife and I
rely on security clearances in our careers, so a foreclosure or
bankruptcy was out of the question. Due to the unknown health concerns
at the time, we decided to self-remediate. In May, 2010, my wife and
children moved in with local family, and I turned the children's attic
play-room into a dormitory, and worked 42 hours per week on average
over 5 months to remediate the home. Along with family and friends, we
logged 2,930 hours and spent $59,000 to remove all drywall, clean
thoroughly, and then replace all wiring, copper plumbing, HVAC,
insulation, drywall, and trim. On October 22, Isle of Wight County
conducted the final inspection, and the home remediation was complete.
Our first child was born in July 2006--one month after moving into
the home. Between 2006 and 2010, there were respiratory issues in the
children that did not raise much concern at the time, but in hindsight
we now know the children's bouts with illnesses lasted much longer than
normal. In addition, my wife was diagnosed with hypothyroidism while in
the toxic home. The real health concerned appeared in 2011--almost a
year after the remediation was completed.
In July of 2011, I was diagnosed with a 6cm mass on my right
kidney. It was found by ultrasound, confirmed by CT Scan and MRI. No
biopsy was conducted because even if the mass were not cancer, it could
become so in the future, so given my age, my doctor recommended an
open, partial nephrectomy (partial kidney removal). The surgery was
conducted in August. While recovering in the Intensive Care Unit, my
doctor informed me that the mass was Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma--
kidney cancer. My surgeon informed me that at 3cm, the cancer typically
starts to spread. At 6cm, my cancer showed no signs of spread, and was
classified as a Stage 1, Grade 2 cancer, and the surgery was declared
``curative''. I was lucky. I have monitoring and scans for the rest of
my life, but the prognosis is good.
I have since learned that Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma is a
relatively rare form of kidney cancer, and 95 percent of those that are
diagnosed with it have a family history. They are also at least in
their 5th decade of life. I have no family history. I am not in my 5th
decade of life. I am personally convinced that my cancer was the result
of exposure to toxic drywall. I cannot say whether it was the chronic
exposure from 2006-2010, or the acute exposure during the self-
remediation. I tend to think a 6cm mass would not have grown that
quickly in the single year since the acute exposure, but there is
little data available on the rate of growth of these cancers since
these cancers are typically removed soon after detection.
Are there other people diagnosed with kidney disease with Chinese
Drywall? Yes. Are there others with cancer--that remains to be seen. In
the years to come, it will take dedicated studies to identify the
health connections and risks. I need to know for the sake and safety of
my 3-and 5-year old children, what risks they have been exposed to,
what scans they may need, and what health tests should be scheduled and
when. The Victims need the U.S. Government to sponsor these studies.
OSHA and EPA have the best publicly available data on the health
risks of Hydrogen Sulfide gas exposure, however due to the nature of
the responsibilities of those organizations, the data is focused on
short term, high concentration exposure. There is little to no data, at
least publicly available, on long-term, low concentration exposure. The
CDC is performing a study relying on modeling a toxic home for personal
exposure levels, and correlating available data to assess health
impacts. Since there are no data on long term exposure, what
conclusions can that study possibly draw?
From a consumer protection and public safety perspective, and as a
victim of Chinese Drywall and Cancer Survivor, I call on the U.S.
Fund a University or Government Lab to conduct studies to
assess the impacts of long-term, low concentration exposure to
Hydrogen Sulfide gas, and other Chinese Drywall off-gas
products, on appropriate laboratory animals. These studies
should supplement the studies CDC is already conducting.
Fund a Health Organization to conduct a comprehensive
epidemiologic study on not only respiratory issues, but
potential long term issues on cognitive function, endocrine
systems, renal (kidney) function, muscular-skeletal systems,
liver function, and publish the results.
Identify a Federal Government POC, by name, for collecting
health information on CDW--be it CDC, HHS, CSPS, or other; and
publicize it on government websites. Make CDW Health Impacts
and studies the responsibility of an agency, and fund it.
Thank you very much for allowing me to present my family's
testimony today. We are a family of three: myself, my husband, and our
12 year old son. We own a home in a master planned community in
Hillsborough County Florida.
Do you know how my family discovered our toxic drywall? I became
sick after living in our new home for just 2 years. I visited
internists, a pulmonologist, and an infectious disease doctor. No one
could tell me what was making me so sick. My patient files said amongst
other things, ``fever of unknown origin.'' I had multiple x-rays taken,
ultrasounds (they feared it was my heart), CT scans, and I even allowed
them to inject me with radioactive material to do gallium scans because
they feared it might be cancer. I have never had asthma. Now I spend
most days thankful if I can run 2 miles without stopping to gasp for
air. Singulair doesn't work. Advair doesn't work. I have few days
without chronic sinusitis. I have had dizzy spells, hallucinations,
nausea, diarrhea and vomiting for days because I have been in the house
too long. I have lost quite a bit of hair. I am the worst off because I
spend the most time home . . . until now. Our son has become sick. He
now has the same symptoms: diarrhea, chronic sinusitis, dizziness,
nosebleeds, and breathing trouble. I asked him what he would like to
say to you. He sadly replied, ``Tell them that now I know how you
feel.'' Far more troubling, his doctor just tested him for celiac
disease and hypothyroidism to determine why he is vitamin D deficient.
Celiac disease and hypothyroidism do not run in our family. He is also
having vision trouble while in the house--it is a red/green color
We have been fighting our builder for years now. We have been
through multiple home testings and had multiple lawyers. We are furious
that homeowners like ourselves are being left to bear the burden of
this financial disaster while big business is let off the hook. We are
the victims. We did not purchase our homes knowing they were full of
toxic materials which destroy our health and render our properties
worthless. Our insurance companies have left us high and dry. The
builders are escaping culpability. Their insurance companies are being
absolved of responsibility. We receive no assistance from our
government and to add insult to injury, all our health complaints have
been ignored to date. This will be another asbestos disaster. We are
all guinea pigs who will be forced to bear years of health problems and
more litigation down the road when we have cancer and mesothelioma. I
am disgusted and feel we have been sacrificed so that every corporation
making profits from these toxic materials can continue to rake in
billions. These products are dangerous and the truth must come out.
Their use must be discontinued and there must be a cooperative
assistance from builders, suppliers, and insurers to fix our homes and
give us safe places to live. This is America. Why aren't we looking out
for our own?
We own this home. We invested every cent we had into it. We face
financial ruin if we walk away. We face risking our lives if we stay.
Are either of these choices fair when we bought this home before the
words, ``toxic drywall'' hit the airwaves?
November 29, 2011
Hon. Mark Warner,
United States Senator,
Dear Senator Warner:
We live in Williamsburg, VA, and are a family that has been
devastated with owning two homes that are contaminated with Chinese
Drywall (CDW). Chinese Drywall has not only destroyed copper & silver
in our homes; it has also devastated our families' health and financial
well being! My parents moved into one home and my father-in-law into
the other home (both in their 80s). In the first year there were many
mechanical issues with the thermostats and air conditioning coils in
both of their homes.
My father-in-law died unexpectedly (7/2008) only two years after
moving unknowingly into a CDW contaminated home (Respiratory Failure).
Our family will never be convinced that the CDW did not potentiate his
death? Imagine our guilt for not knowing what was causing his extreme
weakness. My father-in-law experienced weakness of his legs and was
falling which, was not normal for him. He was an active healthy man
until unknowingly moving into a tainted CDW home. My father-in-law left
the home to go into in-patient rehabilitation and improved tremendously
only to revert back to his CDW health related issues upon returning to
his toxic CDW home. If we had only known he was living in a toxic
environment we would have moved him out and saved his life. My mother
also experienced some of the symptoms. As soon as we became aware of
the CDW we moved my parents out of their tainted home!
According to news articles, the primary reports of deaths to the
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) were of the elderly or youths
with medical problems. This should not be a surprise to the CPSC! If an
adverse reaction would be experienced the above mentioned populations
are the ones you would expect to see the most severe reactions. You can
not convince me that the toxic drywall's hydrogen sulfide off gas,
which is both an irritant and a chemical asphyxiant, does not affect
the body's ability to use oxygen; especially in the elderly. This part
of the population spends more time in their homes and therefore has
more exposure to the toxins than people who leave their home for work
everyday. This does not mean we should accept that their lives were cut
short by this toxic product.
How can this situation not be considered a disaster? How can
Venture Supply and their insurance company not be responsible for not
following the ``International Safety Standards''? Why do companies pay
thousands of dollars for insurance protection and yet have no coverage
when needed? We homeowners did not cause this problem and should not be
the one's left holding the bag!
When will the U.S. Government hold China responsible for the
atrocities it has bestowed upon tens of thousands of innocent American
House built 2001--Florida
My husband and I built our ``dream retirement home'' in Delray
Beach, Florida in December 2001. We replaced the air conditioner coils
in 2002 and 2003. In September 2004 we purchased a new air conditioner
rather than replace the coils again. We replaced the coils again in
2007 and 2008 as well as replacing the heating element and fan. We
replaced the light fixtures in our bathroom because of pitting,
replaced mirrors due to black spots, have black ``copper'' pipes under
the sink as well as black wires in back of the refrigerator and inside
the electrical outlets. In April 2009 we hired an attorney and had the
house tested. They found drywall that said ``Made in China'' and the
air in the house was found to be unhealthy, My husband and I suffer
from burning eyes, runny noses, insomnia, fatigue, coughs, headaches,
memory loss, etc. We pray the house will be remediated. We are senior
citizens living on a fixed income and cannot afford to move out of this
toxic environment. We hope to see a positive outcome from this toxic
disaster that will make us ``whole'' again in our lifetime.
We have just purchased a third air conditioner in 2011.
Please help us.
Forgot to tell you we don't have a mortgage on our home. Being
seniors we cannot afford to move out. We need money to gut the house
Date: December 1, 2011
In August 2010, it was discovered that 75 percent of my new home
(built 2006) was contaminated with toxic Chinese drywall. The drywall
has caused several major appliance failures including new refrigerator,
central air and heat units (over 10 services/repairs since 2007),
fireplace, electrical wiring problems throughout home, and corrosion of
bathroom fixtures. Currently, I have no air conditioning or heat
because units are not properly working and I have had two minor
electrical fires (refrigerator and door bell transmitter). The odor has
become so unbearable to the point that I have been forced to move my
family to rental property. The Hampton City Assessor has deemed my home
uninhabitable and has decreased the building value from $227,000 to
$100. I have attempted a short sale to a cash investor but my mortgage
lender has denied due to low offer. Because I cannot afford to pay
mortgage and rent, I am currently facing foreclosure.
For the record, I want to express my appreciation for the work done
by this committee thus far on this growing issue of contaminated
drywall. My family, here in Alabama, has been affected by this
complicated disaster. I will not take up your time with our recent
history of hardship and surveillance, only inform the committee that my
family is stronger for it. Our value is here and available for any
assistance we may provide the committee as it examines solutions.
Please feel free to contact me anytime.
My family, here in Alabama, has been affected by this complicated
disaster. I will not take up your time with our recent history of
hardship and surveillance, only inform the committee that any family is
stronger for it.
Our value is here and available for any assistance we may provide
the committee as it examines solutions.
Dear U.S. Senate Committee of Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Our American dream has become an American nightmare. My wife and I
are writing to express our imperative plea for legislative assistance
regarding families effected by Chinese drywall. The CPSC and CDC
continue to ignore long term health effects of people living in this
toxic environment. No long term health studies have been released.
Please read this letter with vigilance and understand there are several
people experiencing long term health effects of Chinese drywall. In
September 2006 we built a new home in the beautiful Ross Bridge
community where our children would have access to wooded paths,
community gatherings, parks, and a wonderful school system. We entered
a lawsuit against the builder within 18--20 months after moving in due
to numerous electrical problems including breakers tripping on a
weekly/daily basis, Christmas lights catching fire, new bulbs blowing
out frequently, failing A/C units requiring multiple repairs, appliance
replacements (refrigerator, washing machine, three coffee makers,
waffle irons, hairdryers and roller sets, etc.), and foundation issues.
Soon after entering the lawsuit we discovered many of these problems
were associated with Knauf Chinese drywall that was installed in our
home. Within six months of living in the home health issues developed
within all family members, but we were not aware these issues were
related to the toxic air we were breathing.
In August 2010, eight months after learning we were living in
Chinese drywall, we made a decision to move into an apartment to avoid
continued exposure to the toxicity of hydrogen sulfide that was taking
a toll on our children's health. Despite the enormous financial strain
this created, the health of our children was paramount under current
circumstances. Other families in our lawsuit have also moved out prior
to litigation resolution to protect the health of their children. You
may have read initial reports regarding the health effects associated
with people living in Chinese drywall, such as nose bleeds, respiratory
and sinus infections, skin rashes, itchy eyes, but the CDC is releasing
new information regularly that is revealing other abstract health
concerns that may not be diagnosed and treated immediately.
Neurological, circulatory, and decreased bone growth are surfacing that
we have personally experienced. No one can confirm the long-term health
effects that may transpire from this tragic event. We feel compelled to
share our health concerns that have developed since living in our home.
It may contribute to your knowledge of the concern many families in
Alabama are facing.
Health Concerns of [redacted] (age 44)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (aching joints; no energy; depression;
loss of concentration; memory loss)
Mycoplasma (320+ considered clinically significant--two lab
reports reveal David's count at 1427 and
1913--well beyond clinically significant--doctors cannot
determine cause for extremely high numbers)
Significant Stontium/Lead levels present in blood tests 1.5
years after moving out of house!
Health Concerns of Spouse, [redacted] (age 43)
Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Fatigue and loss of concentration
Insomnia and depression
Vitamin D deficiency
Significant Stontium/Lead levels present in blood tests 1.5
years after moving out of house!
Health Concerns of Son, [redacted] (age 12)
Multiple antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory infections
Inhaler for asthma
Major concern: 55 percentile drop in height and weight in TWO
YEARS--Previously averaged 80-100 percentile
Significant Stontium/Lead levels present in blood tests 1.5
years after moving out of house!
Health Concerns of Daughter, [redacted] (age 13)
Development of seizures
Vitamin D Deficiency
Swollen lymph nodes
Multiple antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory infections
(three rounds of antibiotics from April-June 2010)
35 percentile drop in height in TWO YEARS--Previously averaged
between 90-100 percentile
There are other health issues, but we wanted to highlight those of
greatest concern. Some of the above concerns have improved since moving
out in August 2010, but our daughter continues to struggle with
clinically significant auto-immune and Vitamin D deficiencies despite
substantial changes in our regular diet. The physical development and
decreased bone growth implications are unknown. Our son continues to be
well below his projected height despite the fact we have been out of
the home a year and half. Some research states strontium in the drywall
replaces calcium. Bone and lung cancer are serious concerns based on
preliminary research released from toxicology experts conducting more
in-depth research. Other Chinese drywall neighbors of ours have
children who have also experienced many of the above concerns. It is
too ironic for this to be occurring with several children in the same
neighborhood with normal pediatric history prior to living in CDW. One
week prior to moving out of our home, our son had a friend to spend the
night who had a history of asthma. The child had not had an asthmatic
attack in four years, but went to the Emergency Room the next day after
experiencing the worst attack in his life. Chronic fatigue is still an
issue with David who even recently continues to exhibit clinically
significant mycoplasma lab results. The CDC and CPSC are NOT taking
this issue seriously as they have not looked into the particulate
matter or heavy metals that have a greater impact on long term health.
Please read the toxicology report we will attach for further scientific
research being conducted in one of the hardest hit areas, post
We share this information so you may have a personal account of the
multiple financial and health matters that are effecting victims of
Chinese drywall. Your leadership in assisting families in the same
situation is greatly appreciated. We were debating the possibility of
filing for mortgage modification through a forbearance, but have
concerns of how this will effect our credit that has been superior to
this point. Currently, our mortgage holder will only allow three months
forbearance but will make us pay postponed payments at the end of three
months, with additional fees attached. This is disheartening when we
spent three years paying hundreds of additional dollars toward the
principal of our mortgage, only to pay the loan off faster and save for
our children's college education. We are forced to continue payment of
a mortgage, rent, and utilities at both locations since our homeowner's
insurance requires power and utilities to be turned on for coverage. We
have spent close to $50,000 of our children's college savings and
personal savings to avoid exposing our children to the chronic health
issues experienced! God blessed us with the financial means to move out
sooner than later, but this is not the case for many other families in
We need all politicians to demand additional involvement and
corrective action from The Department of Homeland Security, FEMA,
mortgage industry, and other Federal agencies to provide assistance to
families devastated by the import of Chinese drywall and other toxic
imports. Many doctors are ``scratching their heads'' as to how to treat
families who are experiencing many of the long term exposure symptoms
that are now surfacing. China has continued to import a multitude of
toxic products that are not only killing our citizens, but effecting
our economy by forcing Americans to buy their cheap products. We need
updates on health studies immediately. Time is running out! A neighbor
in his 50s recently died of lung disease. . .CDW?
Please help us!!!! Demand more information from other governmental
agencies. We voted for you to represent the people. People are dying
from this and everyone wants to turn their head! If you would like
additional information, please e-mail us. Our community is arranging
town hall meetings, and we encourage you to attend.
To Whom It May Concern:
I purchased my brand new home on December 15, 2006. I took one
month to make the home my own. Shortly after moving in I began to have
numerous electrical problems in my home. I have spent close to $70,000
in to this home.
The first things I began to notice in my home were numerous cable
television problems. Cox Cable had been to my home around 15-20 times
with in a 12 month period. I lost many DVR boxes and had television
reception problems. During the first 12 months I was in the home, I
lost an ice maker in my refrigerator, dish washer, and many other small
appliances. In the meantime, I also lost three 50'' Plasma Televisions.
I thought my house was haunted and actually became the joke of my
friends. They would routinely say that my home was built on someone's
grave. In the summer of 2007 I lost my air conditioner coils. I paid
$750.00 to have this repaired because the company refused to stand
behind the installation. In the summer of 2008 I lost the same air
conditioning coils again. At this point, I am really wondering what I
have done to deserve all of this stress. Then in August of 2009, I was
getting off work around 4pm. My neighbor comes over and asks if I was
having problems with my home. I had never met the gentleman and he was
very upset. After a long chat he and I had shared many similar stories.
He and I decided that we needed to figure out what was wrong with our
That night, I was determined to get to the bottom of this issue. I
posted on facebook that my home was cursed. A friend read my post and
said I might have something that a friend of his has called Chinese
Drywall. He gave me the number to his friend, and I called him. After a
long chat with him on the phone I thought I finally might be on to
something. I attended a meeting in Norfolk, Virginia about Chinese
Drywall. This was when reality set in.
I thought to myself, this should be easy go to court and get this
house fixed. Well after two years I am no closer to having resolution
to this matter. I have not lived in the home for a long time now, as I
am afraid to be in the house.
Our government has not done anything to stand up for it's tax
paying residents against China, the builders, or the insurance industry
to help us. I cannot even begin to describe the mental anguish this has
caused in my life. I have always paid my bills, taken care of myself,
and paid my taxes. I am almost 40 years old and wonder if I will ever
be able to recover from such a devastating man made catastrophe. I have
been denied homeowners insurance, a claim against my builders
insurance. Why should I be left holding the bag for something I had no
part of? I cannot understand why our government is not here to help us.
After all, they are the ones that negotiate trade deals with foreign
countries. Not me!! Everyone involved in the construction of my home
should be forced to step up to the plate, and right the wrongs they
have caused. I am afraid by the time our government does something, I
will have already lost this home!!
UPDATE: I lost my home yesterday on November 29, 2011
Hi I was told to write you about health concerns with the Chinese
Drywall. We did an addition to our home in 2006 and come to find out it
was Chinese Drywall. In May of this year our then eight year old son
suddenly developed a severe headache. I gave him tylenol and he laid
down then I went to check on him and he couldn't pick his head up or
turn his head. I took him to Dr. [redacted], when we got out of car he
was having trouble walking on his own. The Dr. sent us to E.R. to check
for meningitis. He had a spinal tap and did not have it, so they gave
him strong anitbotics and sent home. His white blood level was elevated
high. He slept most of the next day (Thurs.) then on Fri. I went to
wake him up and he could not get up. I helped him sit up on the bed and
he cried when I moved him. He could not stand up and said his legs felt
weird and would not work. I took him back to Dr. as he cried all the
way there. We had to put him in a wheel chair to take him in and his
legs would not work. He also was having a severe headache. The Dr.
could not get a reflex on his legs. He finally calmed down after about
4 or 5 hours and was finally able to walk. The Dr. wanted us to go have
lunch and come back for some of blood results. We went back and he was
able to walk in and the Dr. and nurses were all relieved. The blood
tests did not show anything so he wanted us to follow up in a few days
with a Neurologist.
We left and as we got close to our car he said ``mom my legs feel
weird again'' and they gave out. I caught him and we put him in the car
where he started screaming with his head again. Took him back into the
Dr. and he sent us to USA Women's and Childrens Hospital where he spent
3 days. Doctors could not pin point anything and we did say something
about the drywall and the Dr. said we were the second family that week
to ask about drywall problems. They sent us to another Neurologist and
Rheumatologist and he had MRI's, nerve test, and EEG done and found
nothing. The doctors have all been baffled.
Long story short, he had about 2 or 3 episodes a week for 4 months
and after everyone asking if we thought the drywall could have anything
to do with it we paid someone to tear out the drywall out of the
addition and have been airing the room out and blocked off from rest of
the home. His episodes after 4 months have basically stopped now.
Also another thing I really wonder about is, my four year was born
with a birth defect of the eye. It did not develop in the back and she
had Cataract, Detached Retina, a mass behind the eye and a distorted
optic nerve. She was a full term baby and the Doctors were baffled that
she was not a premie with all those troubles. I was pregnant with her
when we did the addition and always in that room. She almost lost her
eye and get a prosthetic. She is now blind in that eye. This is just 2
things that concern me about being linked to the Drywall. Anyway I have
a journal of the stuff with my sons' problems. I am curious if anyone
else has had any of these health problems associated with this drywall.
Thank you for your time and hard work.
December 5, 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I just watched footage from a hearing you had on this very topic on
May 21, 2009. How completely sad that it is over 2 years later and you
are having another hearing on December 6, 2011 ``Contaminated Drywall:
Examining the Current Health, Housing and Product Safety Issues Facing
Homeowners''. Nothing seems to have changed in my mind for the
Homeowners. Have you been able to sleep comfortably in your homes since
2009? My family has not. Have you been hounded by your bank, ignored
and dismissed by your insurance agency? My family has. Through no fault
of your own have you been pushed to the brink or over it financially?
My family has. Have any of you lost a beloved pet, because the air in
his home was toxic? My family has. The current ``issues'' are the same
``issues'' we had 2 years ago or 5 years ago. The victims of this
disaster need you to examine how to help us now, right now.
My testimony is: my home has toxic Taishan Chinese Drywall. All the
metal in my home is/was corroded, pitted and black. My family and I had
nose bleeds, respiratory problems, lethargy, headaches, skin rashes and
situational asthma. We fled our home to a rental, rather than risk our
health any longer. Our homeowners insurance denied our claim and then
non-renewed us. I reported to every local, state and Federal agency.
The only help came from Lee County Property Appraiser; they valued our
home at $0. We joined the lawsuit in Louisiana. My bank, Chase, who
owns stakes in Taishan drywall and who has been bailed out by our
government quickly, after much harassment of us, finally gave us a
special forbearance. But we can only have 2 choices, special
forbearance or short sale for 6 months. They are waiting to see how
this all shakes out in terms of money for them. I cannot take the
Federal tax exemption because I have not remediated. There is stress
involved in every aspect of this disaster, even down to little things
like getting out of a cable contract prematurely because your house is
rotting their equipment, because no one cares if you have toxic drywall
or not. This is only a brief synopsis of the living hell we victims
endure on a daily basis.
Our country gives billions of dollars in aid to other countries, we
are building houses in Haiti and meanwhile there are over 10,000
families in the U.S. suffering because our government allowed this
toxic product into this country and our government is ignoring this
crisis. Please end this madness, now.
Toxic Home: Cape Coral, FL built 2006
Please do not think that yesterday's settlement news from KPT has
been the magic answer for the Victims of Toxic Drywall. Thousands of us
still have Taishan drywall or American drywall. Judge Fallon is going
to Hong Kong next month for Chinese depositions and the American
drywall victims do not go to trial until May!
As for the science part of this drywall fiasco, I would like to add
my thoughts. My home has been vacant since approximately October 2009,
with no air conditioning on, in SW Florida. There is no mold growing
and there are no bugs alive in it. I have seen pictures from other
victims of dead rats. Nothing can live in these toxic conditions.
I personally think some of the science must have to do with drywall
eating bacteria, but I am not a scientist.
I am a homeowner, who has paid her taxes her whole life. I have
been blindsided by Chinese Drywall that was allowed into this country.
I have been abandoned by almost all government entities. Do you know
what it felt like to watch the President of the United States wine and
dine the President of China? Why has he not uttered the words ``Chinese
Drywall'' yet? Why hasn't he surveyed the damage this disaster has
caused, like he does with other disasters? Ask him for me please.
I would also like to address the Federal tax break again. It is
real simple. I have documented toxic drywall, I can have a catastrophic
loss deduction. Done. Not the convoluted law we have now, that only if
it is remediated silliness. That is what I would like to see.
I implore you to help the Victims of this disaster now and do not
allow toxic imports in again, for my children's sake.
Do not drop the ball. We Victims need help!
We were so happy to move to our final home on November 10, 2006.
This was to be our home that would take us through our retirement
years. We are now living a nightmare. We discovered in July 2009 that
the home we purchased was built with Chinese drywall. The Chinese
drywall was causing many physical problems in the home and for our
family personally. All three of us have had physical ailments as a
result of having Chinese drywall in the home. Seven months after living
in the home, our golden retriever, Kramer, died of kidney failure. Our
second dog, Bailey, died in December 2008 of respiratory issues.
Now we know why all of these things happened. Chinese drywall!
We purchased and moved into our home in November 2006. After living
in the house for seven months, we began to experience problems with the
air conditioning. As of August 2009, we have replaced six to seven
coils in two AC units. We have had major repairs to our flat screen TV,
computer hard drives and monitors that crashed, small appliances that
failed, a dryer that stopped working due to circuit board failure, and
electrical outlets that had to be replaced. Physically, we have
experienced unexplained rashes, respiratory problems, headaches,
fatigue, insomnia, chronic coughs, and muscle pain. The smell in the
house is in our clothes, furniture, mattresses, linens, and silver
jewelry and flatware have turned black and are unable to be cleaned.
When we opened our windows, our neighbor complained of the smell that
came from our home. We have documentation to prove all of these issues.
Upon learning of the problem, the stress has become unbearable. We
moved out of our home immediately in August 2009, leaving our
belongings behind, and filed a lawsuit because we had no other recourse
since the builder and insurance companies were of no help. We are
thankful that our AC repairman was the one that discovered the cause of
our problems. We are depressed and saddened at the current status of
our life. We worry about our two other dogs that lived in the house all
day long. The outcome of their health and our own is yet to be known.
If the drywall is corroding copper and other metals within the home,
what is it doing to our bodies?
We are currently living in a rental. Our home was sold in a short
sale in November 2010. We lost $400,000 in equity. This was a major
investment for us and through no fault of our own, we lost it all
including the home we loved. Selling the home was in our best interest
and that of the mortgage company. Hanging on to a home you can't live
in with a forbearance on your mortgage, only keeps increasing your debt
to the mortgage company. The increasing debt has caused many families
to file bankruptcy. We are glad that we were able to sell. Had we
foreclosed, the mortgage company would have been stuck with a home in
poor, uninhabitable condition. The short sale has caused our credit to
be hit and it will be affected for seven years. Families that are
dealing this will be held prisoners by their credit. They will not be
able to purchase new homes or buy cars at a decent interest rate, if at
all. We have always maintained excellent credit, and now because of
Chinese drywall that has also been damaged. We are not deadbeats that
have not managed our finances. We attempted to get a new loan and were
told by a bank and mortgage company to come back in three years. They
did not even want to deal with us. Our local community bank is giving
us an adjustable rate mortgage at 5.5 percent that they are holding on
their books since it cannot be sold. This is not a bad rate, but rates
for conventional loans are much lower. We will have to refinance later
to get a conventional loan when our credit rates improve. Another
financial burden! New rules for the underwriting of mortgages and loans
need to be updated to make provisions for homeowners that were victims
of Chinese drywall. Chinese drywall is an ``extenuating circumstance'',
yet there is nothing written about that so loans can be given. This is
something that the government can do.
We are victims of Chinese drywall. This product was allowed in our
country. Please work on safety regulations for imports and make foreign
countries abide by our regulations.
We will continue to move ahead and work with local, state, and
national officials to rectify our situation and the situation that
countless other hard working, tax paying citizens are facing. As of
today, very little if anything has been done to help American citizens
in this situation. We received two forbearances on our mortgage prior
to selling the home in a short sale . . . this is only a band aid on a
much larger problem. We did not cause this situation and we need help
from our government to assist and ensure safety standards for all
Americans. We have contacted the White House on numerous occasions and
have not heard one thing back regarding our situation. We run to
foreign soil at the drop of a hat. Why can't our own country do
something to help its own citizens? You have done nothing! We are
ashamed to be citizens of a country that does not come to the aid of
those that do deserve it. We will tell you that each and every family
that we have met that has Chinese drywall are hardworking American
citizens that pay their taxes and contribute to society. We deserve
some help as well. Our government is a travesty! Actions speak louder
than words and we are tired of the lip service we have received. Wake
up and take action! Help the hard working American citizens and their
families that have been victims of Chinese drywall.
December 8, 2011
Addendum to Testimony
I attended the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Transportation on December 6, 2011 in the Russell Senate Building. I
would like to add my comments regarding the health aspects and credit
issues in the form of an addendum to my testimony turned in prior to
It was noted by the CPSC and the CDC that there is no specific
cause for concern regarding health issues and toxic contaminated
drywall as a result of their studies. How do we know what significant
levels are for exposure to these gases from the drywall? It is very
possible that just an average number was used based on the studies. In
their studies, did they use a significant number of homes where
physical complaints to this exposure were reported or was it just a
random sampling? Every home may have been different based on the
geographic location of the home.
Our family had two very healthy dogs until we moved into the house
with Chinese drywall. The dogs are in the home 24 hours a day for the
most part and stayed by the front door on the lower level just waiting
for us to come home. The gases are heavier on the lower levels as we
now know. Our home had three levels. Seven months after moving in, our
golden retriever developed issues with his kidneys and could not
recover from them. For a week to 10 days, he was at the vet for
treatment. My husband, [redacted] also had some issues with his kidneys
that required treatment. Our standard poodle had a skin reaction that
caused her nose to become crusty, peel and then crust up again. This
was ongoing the whole time we lived in the house. She died two years
after living in this house due to respiratory issues. My husband had a
severe rash that could not be explained by the doctor. He called it
``contact dermatitis'' and the doctor told him something was irritating
his skin. No changes were made to detergent or anything else that could
irritate his skin. It looked like he had chemical burns all over the
trunk of his body, up his neck, and onto the scalp. Nothing made it go
away. Our daughter, who was away at school, would break out in a rash
on her lower torso, and strangely enough when she went back to school,
it would disappear. This only happened to her in this house. We lived
in both houses when she was in college. I had a chronic cough,
headaches, and fatigue ( and I am a high energy person that used every
minute of every day--not in this house). About three months after
moving out of the toxic home, our physical symptoms went away. We
wonder; if the gases corrode metal pipes, what do these gases do to the
inside of our bodies? Only time will tell. What families have reported
is enough to know that you can't live in these houses. I felt the need
to explain in more detail the physical problems that we experienced.
Congress also needs to address the financial situation that has
been created by the Chinese drywall situation. Forbearances were only a
Band-Aid solution for a much larger and longer lasting problem.
Forbearances allowed us to move out of our homes and rent something.
Forbearances were short-lived. Banks are not going to continue to give
them to you and your debt keeps rising for a house that is
uninhabitable through no fault of your own. I addressed this in more
detail in my original testimony submitted prior to the hearing. It has
come to my attention that if the credit is able to be restored for some
families, that it may not be retroactive. Please do not do something
for ``some of us'' and not all of us. We had our short sale a year ago.
We have no idea at this time how long this will affect our credit.
According to the info I received from the bank, it will be seven years
unless it is an extenuating circumstance. I have yet to really get a
clear answer on ``who'' makes that call. Who is going to tell us that
we did have an extenuating circumstance? When will we be able to get a
conventional loan? Don't penalize good, hardworking Americans that were
victims of Chinese drywall because they could see that nothing was
going to be happening anytime soon. We had to act responsibly regarding
our finances, as we always have our entire lives.
When you think about it in our situation, we dealt with the
problems caused by the house with Chinese drywall for two and a half
years. We had the physical problems both with the house and personally.
These resulted in numerous expenses for items that were not covered by
warranties--appliances, electronics, AC coils, vet bills, and personal
medical bills. Insurance did not cover any of this. And now, we have
been out of our house for two and a half years. All in all, we have
been dealing with this nightmare for five years. We need help now and
not years later. We should not be penalized. We are well aware that not
every individual that had Chinese drywall had the same credit ratings.
You can make some decisions that would restore our credit back to what
it was prior to having had to have a foreclosure, a short sale, or a
bankruptcy. Make decisions that will help all of us--not some of us.
Please do not form another committee to investigate. Take action now
and please do it as soon as you can.
Think about it this way. It is your house and your family. What
would you want done to help you recover?
To Whom It May Concern:
On November 1, 2010, we bought our dream home at [redacted]. We
bought this home thru a Foreclosure. We hired a Chinese Drywall
``expert'' to examine our home to determine whether or not it had
defected drywall. The report came back negative so we proceeded to
purchase the home. Within days, we experienced unusual health problems.
My 8 yr old (7 then) developed Hives from his groin area to his knees.
He had never had Hives before. My 5 yr old (then 4) developed upper
respiratory problems for which he was put on an inhaler. He had never
been put on an inhaler before. My wife developed daily Migraines. Now,
she gets Migraines on average 1 migraine every month. Always around her
menstrual cycle or if a large weather front comes thru. I have known my
wife for 18 years and never has she had more than 2 migraines in a
month and this was DAILY migraines. My 2 yr old (1 then) developed an
upper respiratory infection and her first ear infection. She has not
had a respiratory or ear infection since we moved out over a year ago.
Personally, I developed heavy breathing. It was like someone was
standing on my lungs is the only way I know how to explain it. Even
with all these health problems, I first attributed them to the ``stress
of the move''. However, after about 3 weeks of living at [redacted, we
received a letter from Doyle law firm stating they had evidence that
over 450 sheets of Knauf Drywall had been invoiced to our house back
when it was originally built in 2007. After almost throwing the letter
away (remember the part we had a Chinese drywall Inspection done) I
decided to call Jimmy Doyle. He came out to our house the following day
and within 10 minutes had located an entire area with Knauf ``Made In
China'' drywall. I contacted our pediatrician and informed her of this
discovery. She advised us to vacate the premises immediately. So, after
living in our new home for about 3\1/2\ weeks, we moved out of the
house that night into my Mother-In-Law. To put it lightly, it has been
HELL for our entire family since the discovery of the Knauf drywall. On
a good note, all of our symptoms went away after a few days of being
moved out of [redacted]. However, I do not need to wait for tests to
determine if this will cause very serious health problems over long
exposure. I know first hand what it does to your body in about 3 weeks,
so common sense tells you it will only get worse with long term
We are in the class action lawsuit against Knauf. It has been VERY
slow moving. However, at least until now, our bank, Regions, (who sold
our mortgage to Freddie Mac after I told them of the drywall problem)
has issued a forbearance on the loan. We cannot afford paying a
mortgage payment and rent payment, nor should it be expected of us. We
also have a lawsuit against Griffith Home Analysis (the supposed
``Chinese Drywall Expert). I hope this e-mail helps, I really can't
stress enough the emotional strain we have been under. Please feel free
to e-mail me back with any questions you may have.
Thank you for any help you can provide.
Chinese/American Defective Drywall
I am a Disabled Veteran who purchased a new home in 2007. My home
was built in 2006, and contains United Gypsum. After living in our home
for 39 months, and 6 hospital visits, with two additional visits post-
moving, we are still waiting for help from someone!
I listened to the Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Subcommittee Hearing on Drywall recently by videocast. I am quite
dismayed by some of the answers that were given, especially by Mr.
Cowen in his testimony before your committee. I believe that I may
answer some of the questions that you were looking for.
What most people don't seem to comprehend is that there are
similarities between the true Chinese Drywall, and the American
Drywall, but there are vast differences also. The true Chinese drywall
that is marked (ex: Taishaun, Knauf, China, or others) turns everything
black quickly, you normally lose you're A/C coil quickly, and most of
the time there will be a smell such as rotten eggs. At least with these
signs people can get out of their homes much quicker.
But with the American Drywall such as mine, as I only have United
States Gypsum, we had A/C issues right from the start. We started
feeling sick about 6 months in, and other things happened that were
unexplainable. The lights would flicker, we started losing small
appliances, and at times we thought we smelled something.
Then we lost our electric kitchen stove, and then the water heater
went, and my wife started having kidney issues. Being a Disabled
Veteran with an already compromised immune system, I started having
additional breathing issues. This was followed by kidney problems also
just like my wife had. Then I had blood pressure problems for the first
time, followed by heart problems.
Now over 4 years later we have discovered that it took our home
with American Drywall about 2-2\1/2\-3 years to become fully evolved.
It seemed to evolve and cook more and more throughout this time period.
You could notice the progression, if you inspected the house about
every 3-4 months. You could see the changes in the copper wiring, and
the odor increased significantly. In the American Drywall homes it
comes across as a sweet-sickly, chemical smell, and you can taste it on
your lips and tongue. I and my wife, (but more myself) have become so
sensitive after living in this for so long that when we cross the
threshold of a door we can tell if that home or building has bad
drywall in it. In some cases you do not even have to make entrance, as
you can smell it coming from the soffit under the eves of the house.
Commercial Exposure and Food Products
I am very concerned as in this past year we have discovered many
commercial businesses that have bad drywall. I have tried talking to
the Managers, but most of them usually think that I am crazy, or have
came back later and stated that they checked and do not have any
problems. I am in the process of sending a letter to the Health
Department of Florida listing the businesses I have observed bad
My biggest concern is the food stores with the meats and open
exposed goods. Also the gases that permeate the cardboard boxes. We
have discovered stores from Estero to Sarasota, Florida. In Estero
alone there are in a 5 mile radius 4 Publixs', 2 Super targets, 1
Sweetbay grocery stores that are infected. Then there are 2 extremely
large shopping malls that were built during this timeframe,and we have
discovered some of these businesses have bad drywall.
Residential and Real Estate Dealings
We moved out of our home in the middle of October 2010, and moved
about an hour South to Estero, Florida in a home that I knew was free
from any bad drywall. Prior to our first year expiring we started
looking for a place to rent, back in the area where our home is
We were shocked as we searched for a place to live, finding mainly
homes that were exposed to bad drywall just like our own home. The
smells were identical to our own. What was even more frightening was
the fact that some of the homeowners and Realtors, knew that the homes
contained bad drywall, or that at least there was a problem. Others
were in denial, and even after I talked to them trying to educate them,
I also told them some websites to assist them in learning more about
the problems, many of them didn't care and still rented or sold the
homes to unsuspecting people. In a 3 month period we encountered over
50 homes, as well as some Real Estate offices that were contaminated.
One of your committee members inquired at the hearing if anyone
knew of any foreign entities that had bad drywall. I wanted to shout
through the webcast at that time because my wife was back home visiting
her mother in Yalta, Ukraine. My mother-in-law's apartment is on the
1st floor, and constructed of all concrete inside. About 1 year ago she
had some new windows and interior doors replaced. In the bedroom my
wife grew up in they installed a new wooden door, and they had to add
some drywall around the door after framing. This was the only drywall
in the entire apartment and it was Knauf brand. When my wife first
arrived at her mothers, as she entered the front door she smelled the
drywall, as stated before she also had become quite sensitive to the
Drywall Time Frames
In our search for a place to live we encountered mostly homes that
were built in the years of 2004--2006. But we did find homes that were
constructed in different areas, by different builders, in 2008 and also
in 2010. We also found many older home when we changed our search
requirements, that had been remodeled and contained contaminated
Builders, Suppliers and Installers Knowledge
As a homeowner and also a Victim of this Disaster, I am enraged
that many of the builders, suppliers, and installers were aware of the
drywall problems back in the year ``2006''. When the judge opened the
Settlement Agreement in the Miami trial, that was made between Knauf
and Banner Supply, after reading the documents it made me sick.
If these facts had been revealed to the public, I don't think that
many of us homeowners who are sick and suffering, would be in the
position right now that we are in!
My wife and I are still sick, with an unknown future as to our
medical health. We are out Thousands of Dollars, and our Credit has
taken a hit because we could not afford to pay our Freddie Mac loan and
rent at the same time.
I would like the opportunity to speak before your panel because I
am tired of listening to experts who know nothing, and sugar coat all
the facts and details. I have lived it, I have breathed it, I have
studied it, I like the other tens of thousands have had the same
medical symptoms--I have suffered it, so why not ask a real
professional--I do have many answers and also some suggestions for a
Re: The Toll Chinese Drywall Has Taken On Our Family and Commuinity
We want to share the absolute tragedy our family has faced as a
result of a toxic foreign product which was allowed into the United
States. We are 100 percent innocent victims who will pay the price for
this oversight the rest of our lives, and we are pleading for help from
our political leaders.
In 2006 we wanted to move our growing family into a larger home in
a promising development. We moved in August of '06. Immediately after
moving in we began experiencing problems with the home and unexplained
health symptoms. The builder had a long ``punch-list'' of items which
were never completely resolved and resulted in us and several of our
neighbors taking legal against the builder after 18 months. Upon
lawsuit inspections, we discovered many additional issues with our
homes which were in direct code violation and never should have passed
inspections. Then, in September of '09 we also discovered our home was
built with Knauf Chinese Drywall--as were 35 percent of the homes on
Problems with our home:
-- Water flooding and year-round standing water in the yard
due to improper drainage and grading. Water ran underneath the
home soaking support structures and elevating moisture levels.
Later we would find that this elevated moisture further
exacerbated the off-gassing of our Chinese Drywall.
The following are all issues resulting from Chinese Drywall:
-- Failing HVAC system: frost on interior walls from Freon
leaks, five failed AC coils, and the furnace setting off smoke
alarms etc. There were 9 HVAC repair visits in the first year.
-- Wiring problems: lights which turn themselves off and on,
light switches which ``pop'' when used, and rooms full of
lights which would ``dim'' when an appliance was turned on etc.
-- Failing electrical and appliances (big screen TV, smoke
alarms, security system, constant replacement of light bulbs,
washing machine, stereo receiver, DVD players, speakers,
computers, printers, and multiple small appliances which
stopped working after 3-4 months etc.).
-- Batteries which quickly died, including car batteries from
the vehicle which we parked in the garage. Our family van had 2
batteries die in the first year of use.
-- Smoke alarms and the security system would sound for short
intervals and then silence. In one 2008 instance the fire
department was called. When the firefighters arrived at 3:00
a.m. they said the home smelled like burnt matches (sulfur) but
could not locate a fire. Later we would learn that many other
victims were experiencing similar alarm problems due to CDW
dust on alarm sensors.
-- The drywall itself is ``weak'' and crumbles around nails
and hanging brackets in the wall. A large 4, x 7, mirror pulled
away from the wall and fell toward our 3yr old while he was at
the sink. The nails and brackets holding the mirror up were
black and corroded and the sheetrock itself had crumbled and
given way. Several wall hangings and curtain rods fell off the
walls in similar fashion. On another occasion our 7 yr old
accidentally slid into the wall while running and punched a
hole in the drywall with his knee. The drywall gave way under
But all of these issues pale in comparison to the severe health
problems my husband, I, and our three young children have faced in the
last four years. Health symptoms started with the tell-tale nose
bleeds, respiratory and sinus infections, skin rashes, itchy eyes,
chronic coughing, but grew to include broader neurological, circulatory
and bone growth delays. These are all outlined as the effects of
hydrogen sulfide, strontium, carbon disulfide and carbonyl disulfide
poisoning. This information is available via the National Library of
We discovered the vast majority of our home was constructed with
Knauf drywall in September of '09 and since have learned that the
following health issues follow similar patterns across the nation:
-- In the first few months in our new home, my husband
developed severe sleep-apnea to the point where he was having
an apnea every 60 seconds while sleeping. Sleep deprivation and
pulmonary strain followed.
-- Our youngest child immediately developed chronic chest
congestion and was diagnosed with asthma which required he
receive nebulizer treatments 2-3 times a day.
-- All three children (ages 18 months, 3 and 6 at the time)
quickly developed skin rashes, eczema, bladder infections,
yeast infections, loss of appetite, ear infections, and
repeated respiratory complications. The children would
constantly cough after waking--a symptom which would go away
when they left the home or were in school.
-- Adults suffered chronic fatigue, loss of sense of smell,
memory loss, inability to concentrate, insomnia, nausea/
vomiting and depression.
-- Visiting family members became ill--65 year old father was
hospitalized with pneumonia and 61 year old mother developed a
severe sinus infection after staying with us for just a few
-- Every member of our family was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD
within 18 months. This was accompanied by high-anxiety and
irritability requiring medication for all, ages 4 through 45.
-- Our youngest child spent the majority of his life
developing in this toxic home has experienced the most severe
symptoms. After four years of symptoms, he was tested by the
Hoover school system in the spring of '10 and diagnosed with
high ADD and had boarder-line Autism scores. He was issued an
IEP and placed in Early Intervention Pre-school. Additionally
his growth rate dropped from 97 percent percentile at age two,
to 30 percent percentile at age 5. Tests were conducted for
endocrine function, growth hormones, celiac disease, liver
function etc. and all cam e back normal indicating something
else was the cause. In June '10 we believe we discovered the
cause; our Knauf drywall contains very high levels of
strontium. Our drywall was inspected with an XRF detector
revealing boards with strontium counts as high as 3300 ppm when
the allowable level is below 200. Strontium is absorbed into
the bone and replaces calcium, stunting bone growth.
-- By July of 2010 we had spent thousands on doctor visits and
had over $700 in monthly prescriptions to treat all of our
We then made the difficult decision to evacuate our home to
alleviate our children's current health problems and for fear of future
health complications. Since moving out of our toxic Chinese Drywall
-- The children's appetites have increased and all have gained
weight. The youngest grew a 3 inches in the first year we were
out of our toxic home.
-- Skin rashes have minimized and there have not been any
bladder or yeast infections.
-- All have been able to reduce medication.
-- And most importantly, our youngest was re-tested by the
Hoover school system in October and scored completely
``normal'' for his age and no longer needs ADD medication.
-- Unfortunately, many health symptoms remain and doctor
visits are frequent.
We are thankful our health problems are improving, but we are now
faced with the financial burden of paying our mortgage, rent and
utilities on two households which is unsustainable. We filed suit
against the manufacturer in '09, and while the legal process is moving
quickly, homeowners like us are running out of time. Settlements are
only covering repairs and 3 months of relocation and are still many
months away. Like many homeowners, we will be faced with months of
relocation costs which will never be reimbursed and forbearance costs
for which we'll never be compensated.
We are sharing this personal information so you can understand the
toll Chinese Drywall is having on many families in Alabama. Current AL
statistics are significantly understated and true impact could be as
high as 3500 homes based on the gap between reported vs. confirmed
cases in Ross Bridge. Your leadership and focus on this issue is
We purchased our ``retirement'' home in Sun City Center, Florida in
February of 2007. Built in September of 2006, it had never been lived
in. It was a home we could be proud of and fit our lifestyle perfectly,
as we love to entertain. We also enjoy having family and friends visit
us when it's cold up north and they need a break from snow-shoveling.
We noticed a ``different'' smell to the home. It didn't smell like
most new homes. But we thought that was due to it's being closed up for
a few months. After we moved in, we noticed some discoloration of many
of the metal items in our home over time, but didn't think much of it.
We found that we both suffered a few more headaches than we usually did
and our eyes bothered us, as they often itched or burned. We treated
both with over the counter medications.
In 2009 we learned that we had Chinese Drywall. From that point on
we have learned, through experience, what living with Chinese Drywall
really means. We have had to replace our air-conditioning coils and one
very expensive refrigerator. Our lamps are not working well, many of
our switches for our overhead lights have quit working and our smoke
alarm has failed. Additionally, our mirrors are getting little black
specks or drips in them. Our fixtures are getting pitted in our
bathrooms. The replacement refrigerator had to be fixed (fortunately
not replaced, this time). Some of our jewelry and decorative items have
turned black with corrosion. Anything silver is tarnished beyond normal
As the economy has affected the value of homes, our home has taken
an even worse hit. It isn't worth anything. The house is totally
unsellable at any price. We have received a little help from
Hillsborough County, in the form of real estate tax relief. Our house
has no value as far as they are concerned. And there are no
instructions as to how we might be able to claim this loss on our
This house is a sick house. We don't know the full ramifications of
the long-term effects on our health as a result of living in this
house. But we do know that it has already been costly to live in this
house, compared to living in a similar home of the same design and age.
We victims of Chinese Drywall deserve for our government to back
us. This is too big a problem for ordinary citizens to solve without
the help of those who should be overseeing the products that come into
our country. For most people, one's home is their largest single
expense. Most of us don't have the necessary resources to fix our
homes. Through no fault of ours, we are having to pay for the problem
financially, physically and emotionally. Please help.
I finally after 47 years had the money to build my dream home on my
little 8 acres of paradise in the country. After working and saving and
paying on mortgages and children and I could finally say I had
accomplished something. Every penny I had would go into this little
home, so that I could afford to live there in my old age and leave
something to my daughter. Two years after moving in the nightmare was
realized. My A/C stopped cooling it was still under warranty so I
called my A/C man, it was then that he told me I had Chinese drywall
and what it had done to my A/C coils. I began my research, and then
understood that strange smell the sinus problems and headaches that I
had had. I could not afford to keep fixing my A/C I now have an
abandoned home, no money to fix it its been a disaster to me just like
if it had been a tornado or hurricane without insurance! My daughter
had given me a house warming plaque to hand over my front door, it
reads, ``God is the head of this home and the unseen guest in every
room``. I still have it hanging there, because it seems that he is my
only hope, no lawyer, and no government cares about the injustice that
has happened to all of the CDW victims.
I have written numerous letters to agencies around the county all-
the way to the president of the United States of America I hope this
will have different outcome. There a few words to describe Chinese
drywall a living hell a nightmare you can't wake up from. Financial
December 08, 2011
Re: Testimony Concerning Impact of Chinese Drywall for the Senate
Committee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance
Dear Senate Committee:
This letter is to document the negative life impact created by
owning a home that was constructed with Chinese Dry Wall (CDW). I am
one of the many homeowner's, whom through no fault of their own,
discovered their homes contained ``toxic'' Chinese dry wall.
I purchased my condominium at [redacted], Williamsburg, VA, in
October of 2007 after retiring from 27 years of service in the U.S.
Navy. It was a lovely home that suited our every need. After the first
year of living there however, we began to notice that something was not
right; as my wife and I were often ill and suffered enduring headaches,
skin rashes, burning eyes, and respiratory distress. As a hard-core
runner, the respiratory issues began to take their toll on my running
performance. With the summer heat of 2009, the toxic fume level inside
the home had become extremely noticeable and very unbearable. Then that
August, the builder informed me that he had received word from his
drywall supplier that shipping records indicated that the home had been
built with a significant amount of Chinese dry wall installed. I
immediately had the builder test the home. If our health issues were
not evidence enough, his actual tests without doubt, confirmed the
presence of Chinese Dry Wall.
We were forced to evacuate the home on 31 AUG, 2009 due to the
extremely unhealthy environment that was actually worsening each day.
My wife and I had no other choice but to remove all our household
possessions from the home for further risk of them being cross-
contaminated ( the toxic hydrogen sulfide fumes emitted by the Chinese
dry wall actually penetrate and are absorbed by anything that is porous
or permeable; clothing, pictures, books, paintings, upholstery,
bedding, mattresses, etc.). We temporarily relocated to a hotel for
three months while we attempted to negotiate resolution with the
builder. After numerous unsuccessful attempts at engaging the builder
to remedy the situation, I was forced to take legal action and I joined
a forming class action law suit, as well as a case filed at the State
level. These suits are against the entire supply chain involved with
the manufacture, procurement, distribution, and installation of the
Chinese dry wall in our home.
The Federal District Court in New Orleans heard the original six
cases for homeowners involved from Virginia. The presiding judge,
[redacted], ruled in their favor, however since the ruling was against
a Chinese company, appropriate restitution has not been forthcoming.
Additionally, the other part of his ruling determined the ``official
protocol'' for remediation, which to date had been in question (remove
just the Chinese drywall, or gut the entire home?). His determination
at that time was the only acceptable remediation method is the complete
gutting of the home down to the framing studs. This includes removal of
all insulation, ducting, appliances, wiring, plumbing, etc. to prevent
any further cross-contamination. He estimated the cost at between $80-
90/sq ft, meaning a 2000 sq ft home such as ours would cost as much as
$180,000 to remediate fully, to restore it to a safe and livable
condition. His remediation protocol has since been refined slightly by
After three months of hotel living and no reasonable solution
within sight, I purchased another property at my current address in
December 2009 to help restore some ``normalcy'' and sense of balance to
our lives. This was an important step in trying to place behind us the
absolute nightmare and absurdity of the previous three months in losing
our home for no visible or apparent reason. As a side note, while
moving in to our new home we had to discard over $30,000 of our
personnel possessions due to their being cross-contaminated by the
fumes (they stank of the noxious gas). This was a considerable
financial burden in itself to replace these possessions, and having to
essentially ``start over'' to equip our new home (this was NOT covered
by homeowners insurance).
We were then in a situation where we are paying over $5000/month in
mortgage cost alone for two homes; one of which is completely vacant
and useless; a true financial ``black hole``. Through no fault of our
own, we were left with a property that we could not sell, we could not
rent, nor could we ``live'' in it. The property was completely
worthless until proper remediation could be performed to remove the
toxic Chinese drywall restoring the property to a ``clean and livable
state``. It was during this time that I requested a forbearance from
Wells Fargo. I was asking for some ``relief``, or time, while the legal
process was taking its course and future corrective action could be
directed. I was doing everything in my power to do the right thing,
fulfill my obligations, and to prevent a foreclosure on the loan. Wells
Fargo did not grant a forbearance, but they did allow for a loan
modification that lowered my monthly mortgage by about $200/month.
Thankfully, in October of 2009, I received an offer from the
builder to buy the property back, however at a significant loss to me
of my down payment and equity, as well as having to cover the remaining
balance of my loan. I originally purchased the condominium in October
of 2007, at a selling price of $427,000. Faced with the situation of
paying two mortgages, on two homes at close to $5000/month, and one of
which is completely vacant and useless, I made the decision to accept
the builders offer of $220,000. As part of this agreement, I also had
to agree to drop any further claims against the builder in any future
CDW legal actions. We settled on this sales transaction on 21 December,
I had requested from Wells Fargo a ``short-sale'' of the home,
since my loan balance was $325,000; however, I was disapproved because
of for all reasons, I was not delinquent on any of my payments. You had
to be delinquent on your payments to be considered for a short sale;
which is an absolutely absurd policy that penalizes those homeowners
who are doing everything possible to NOT be delinquent in their
payments (less it affects their credit score). Since I was not approved
for a short-sale, I then had to pay the $105,000 difference from my
savings to cover the remaining balance of my loan and protect my credit
score. This completely wiped-out my savings; however, the builders
offer to re-purchase the home was an opportunity to put this nightmare
behind me, even though it was a catastrophic loss and at great cost.
Besides the obvious financial impact, and potential health
complications that are still being evaluated, there is the ``human and
moral'' impact side to this story. To be sitting in your lovely home
one day, and then to have it completely useless to you the next, for no
reason of your own, is truly incomprehensible. It's just not right. The
feeling that you have been ``violated'' is overwhelming, and it
continues to be with me each and every day. I lost my home; then I lost
my savings to get out of it, and into a new one; and then I lost my
wife, as the duress and strain dealing with this unbelievable nightmare
for two years was a stress our relationship could note endure. This
nightmare of Chinese drywall was at great cost to me, and not for
anything that I did wrong. Please help the victims of Chinese drywall
who are completely innocent Americans who did absolutely nothing wrong
to bring this catastrophe upon themselves.
Thank you very much for your time, consideration, and assistance in
helping those of us homeowners who have been significantly impacted by
the effects of Chinese drywall.
Testimony, (Knauf--Tinjuin Drywall)
My family, [redacted], had Chinese drywall in our home. We
remediated last year from January 2010--August 2010. We Could not
afford an apartment so we moved in with our in-laws. I did a lot of the
work myself since I work for a contractor. During the demolition
process my brothers and dad helped me remove the gypboard, insulation,
cabinets, wood trim, doors, we salvaged cabinets and doors, basically
had to trash the remainder. We would do this work at nights after work
and weekends. Most of the time working to midnight. We had to use our
savings and take out a home equity loan to pay for the efforts, also
plenty of credit card debt, which is mostly outstanding. I was able to
subcontract out the remediation and testing. I did have to clean every
square inch of insulation from the studs and plywood. This alone took
about a week of scrubbing the wood and using a shop vacuum to remove
the insulation in the corners of the wood framing. I also subcontracted
out the paint, insulation, electrical, and HVAC. I was able to rework
the plumbing on my own. Meanwhile my wife got sick, she has crones
disease, found out we had it about the time we moved into our new home
in 2006. With the stress of money issues and no home, it activated the
crones disease into a state where she required surgery (flare up). In
may during our remediation efforts [redacted] had to have 18'' of her
intestines removed. It was a three week hospital visit, not to mention
the bills that came later. My yard is destroyed from the vehicles,
dumpsters, and material unloading during the efforts, though I do not
have enough money to fix to date. It was 8-months of hell, late nights
working every day during my normal work hours ordering materials and
making sure the subcontractors were showing up, performing and making
trips for lunch to check quality, etc.. That's it in a nutshell. Thanks
for listening. Only God got us through it. By the way, we still are
using our same appliances and we have to get them worked on about once
a month. We spent about $50,000 total.
Here is my story. . .
A Human Disaster--Toxic Chinese Drywall
Thank you for taking the time to ask for comments from American
citizens! I hope that you will research the situation my family and
thousands of other families have been dealing with for over 2 years!
Please see these sites/articles for more information.
China needs to be held accountable for the toxic imports being sold
to the USA and other countries!
It seems unbelievable to me that the leaders of our country refuse
to publicly acknowledge this as the Disaster it is for American
families! This story has been kept out of the national media spotlight
to ``Preserve our relations with China``, I assume. What if it was made
public? What if our children's lives were more important than China?
What if China had to face a national audience to offer some explanation
concerning their toxic product? Our government has kept things quiet
while we have been dealing with this tragedy for years!!!
The CPSC states that there are close to 4,000 reports of homes with
toxic Chinese Drywall. That number does not come close to showing how
many people live in those homes and are affected. The fact is that the
true number of human lives being damaged by this product that was
allowed into the U.S.A. is not being reported. The number of people
being affected by Chinese Drywall is so much greater! Yes, we are
spread out over 37 different states, and no Chinese Drywall is not a
natural disaster. But, how many lives have to be damaged to get the
officials of this country to recognize this disaster and give these
victims some help? The fact that we do not show as one huge group
suffering in one location from some act of nature should not sway
anyone from seeing that this disaster has occurred and we are in need
Our homes are corroding, our financial future is in ruins as the
biggest investment of our lives is worth nothing, our credit scores are
damaged, security clearances necessary to maintain careers are in
jeopardy, and we can't afford to move out and pay for 2 homes. Many of
us are living in these houses with sulfuric gases--when mixed with
moisture--basically acid rain! When I kiss my kids goodnight and watch
them sleeping and breathing the air in our home, I become enraged!!
I don't care if our country owes China. We still hold the power
over them because we can stop purchasing products from their country!
Or at least, we must create laws that will require their products to
meet the highest safety standards and protect our citizens from harm!
If we could gather up all of the people affected in this disaster
from all 37 states and plop them in front of the White House to protest
the complete lack of concern for human life we would. However, most of
the Victims of Chinese Drywall cannot take time off from jobs they
can't stand to lose to go into D.C. to be a show of force!
We are barely holding on as officials seem to do nothing to hold
china accountable for all of the toxic products imported into the
U.S.A! Bring China to the table. Hold them accountable!!!
Men, women and children are suffering. Tax paying, hardworking
citizens are being told, ``We are working on it, but it is a difficult
issue!'' How long are we going to continue to suffer in this disaster
with no relief?
**NOTE** I created this letter about 1\1/2\ years ago. At this
point, my husband and I are having to put $100,000 (scraped and
borrowed that we will be repaying forever) into gutting and rebuilding
our home. We will never recover financially or emotionally. We will
worry for the rest of our lives about what Chinese Drywall has done to
the health of our 2 sons!
Worried Mother/Disgusted Citizen/Chinese Drywall Victim
Don't understand why elected officials will not help us.
My bank, B of A has created all sorts of felonious charges.
My name is [redacted] I live in Port St. Lucie, Florida with my
husband, daughter, son in law and grandson. We have endured severe
health conditions with the drywall being in our home. The worse is
having to see my small grandson get up in the middle of the night due
to bloody nose, he has also been diagnosed with Asthma due to the toxic
drywall. We adults are exhibiting severe headaches, watery eyes along
with other issues. My credit score as been damaged due to this issue
At this point we have seen no one in the government or these
companies that imported this toxic drywall be it from China or the
States as suppliers, builders etc. who have compensated us and helped
us out in a remediation issue with our homes. We bought these homes in
good faith and therefore this situation has been devastating to us. I
only hope that in me e-mailing this letter along with the other with
the other homeowners who are suffering due to this will bring a prompt
conclusion to our pain and suffering.
After the recent Senate Hearing on Chinese Drywall (CDW), I was
told I needed to send correspondence to this e-mail address to tell
about our CDW experience.
When Hurricanes Jeanne and Frances hit the area around Vero Beach,
FL around September 2004, we were out of our Condo until it was
repaired and finished the middle of August 2006. We had installed a new
Air Conditioning Unit at that time. By February 2010 we had to replace
the A/C coil 2 times so that is when we discovered we had CDW installed
in our unit. The Sulphur Dioxide emissions had eaten up 3 A/C coil and
turned all other copper pipes and exposed copper wiring black, plus any
silver and some other metals also turned black from the emissions of
that gas. We coughed a lot and finally had our lungs check, but the
Doctor discovered no damage to our lungs. However, when we returned to
our home in Haymarket, VA in early May 2010 our coughing stopped within
a week. Even though, the President of our Condo Association at first
said early in February 2010 the Condo Association would take care of
the CDW, she later said in April 2010 that they were not responsible
for tainted products, even though the Condo Association had put in the
drywall after the hurricanes. My insurance company would not pay for
the repair as the Condo Association is responsible for the drywall and
everything behind it.
Finally, in May 2011, with new Board Members on the Condo
Association Board and a new President of the Board, they began to take
action. They had all 246 condo units inspected and found around 60
units with CDW and 16 as bad as ours. The new President and Board did
replace all tainted drywall at Association expense. However, the unit
owners were responsible for removing their furniture and belongings out
of their unit. Before the drywall could be removed and replaced, all
trim had to be removed as well as all bathroom and kitchen cabinets.
All light fixtures and fans also had to be removed. All that had to be
put in storage. Once work was started, progress was fairly swift. We
hired a Contractor to do all the work, except the drywall, and to put
the unit back together as it was before. We began moving our stuff back
into our unit by late August 2011, completing the move by September 5,
2011. Our remediation cost to us for our unit was approximately
$40,000, plus another $4,000 for moving and storage expenses.
We live in Haymarket, VA and spend 4-6 months each year during the
winter in our condo in FL. We feel that tainted products, such as
Chinese Drywall, should have been inspected by the U.S. Government
before allowing these tainted products to be used in the USA for
To Whom It may Concern:
The enclosed will recount my families nightmare reference the
Chinese Drywall Disaster. My wife and I purchased our dream home in
November 2006 from WCI (the builder) at the Parkland Golf and Country
Club in Parkland, Florida. Little did we know that this dream home
would turn into such a nightmare ultimately affecting our health and
destroying our credit along with taking much of our life savings with
it. Soon after purchasing the home we began to smell something in the
home that did not seem right. When we contacted the builder we received
no help. As the months went on our handlers needed repair and
replacement as well as our microwave and dishwasher. Still nothing from
the builder explaining the root causes of such issues. Then rumors
began to spread around the neighborhood (which was a new community)
that WCI suspected that faulty drywall had been used in the
construction of the homes. Later we found out during the WCI bankruptcy
that WCI knew the drywall was defective but still elected to build our
homes with it and knowingly closed on our homes with this defective
material. Several months after living in the home my wife, son and I
all began to experience different health effects that we were unclear
where they were coming from. My son began to experience asthma like
symptoms with deep bouts of extreme respiratory congestion. My wife
began to develop extreme swelling in her joints and found it difficult
to sleep through the night. I experienced similar issues of breathing
difficulty and had problems sleeping through the night as well. Then in
2009 our little dog fell ill and we had her examined by our vet and he
found a cancerous tumor had developed in her body. Several months later
she died. Additionally throughout the neighborhood we heard of similar
health issues and in fact to homeowners in the community who had CDW
were diagnosed with cancer and both have since passed. Late in 2008 WCI
(in their bankruptcy documents) finally admitted that the CDW (Knauf)
was present in our homes and we hired an attorney to represent our
interests. First we started with our homeowners insurance policy as
well as our builder's insurance policy we received as part of our
closing. The builder's insurance was denied immediately since they
considered the CDW a pollutant. Our homeowner's Insurance claim was a
longer process (Lexington Insurance--an AIG Company) where we paid for
expensive testing and they performed testing as well only to find that
our home was indeed infected with the Knauf CDW. Ultimately Lexington
denied our claim as well citing non-coverage due to the CDW being a
pollutant. The funny thing is that during the CDW testing large
sections of drywall sections were removed from our walls. Because of
this the air became worse as it was almost as if the walls were free to
bleed more toxicants. Additionally, we tried to get some relief from
our bank reference our mortgage but this was a futile effort as well.
Ultimately, we decided for health reasons that we needed to move out
and find a healthy place to live. I can tell you that almost
immediately our individual health issues went away. There is no doubt
in my mind that breathing in sulfur in an enclosed box has and will
have serious health consequences. It may vary in degree as we are all
made up differently but unfortunately people will die from this much
like asbestos poisoning. Once we moved out with no relief in near sight
we did not have the financial ability to continue to pay our mortgage
and pay for a rental property as well and ultimately after being
refused a short sale by our bank the Bank purchased the property back
thru a foreclosure and REO process. The funny thing is that our bank
was Bank United and because they were a bank that had failed during the
2008 financial crisis we believe their losses were covered by the U.S.
Government. So our story is simple. Many parties have been involved in
our situation and the only people who have lost and are without hope
are us the former homeowners. We did nothing wrong and our laws and our
government has failed us. Our government has not done one thing to help
us or others like us. The key parties in this transaction were:
WCI--Builder who knowingly sold us a defective home but was
then protected by the bankruptcy laws.
WCI Independent Insurance Companies--We were sold a builders
assurance policy which was later deemed worthless for this
Lexington Insurance (AIG Company)--Our insurance company who
made us go thru a sham of a claim process later to deny our
claims. Funny how we bailed out AIG and once again they do not
have to make good on an insurance policy.
Bank United - Bailed out by the U.S. government.
Mike Ryan--our lawyer--Mike has tried his best to move the
various cases along and now seems as frustrated as we are with
our failed legal system. We needed immediate relief not a 4 to
6 year process that may never provide us relief.
Our government--All the various agencies and senate and
congress members who have been involved with this issue who
when you cut to the bottom line have done nothing concrete to
help those who have been wronged by faulty, defective and toxic
product imported from China. As my mom always told me proof is
in the pudding and quite frankly this pudding is now rancid
from the broken dreams of tax paying U.S. citizens.
In conclusion I was always taught that this is why (these
situations) we have a set of laws and a government. And for all of the
agencies who have said there is no health issue with the CDW shame on
them. They would not have wanted to live in one of these houses. Our
government has failed my family. I want you to know that tears are
streaming down my face as I write this knowing that what I was taught
to be true as a child was not the case and nobody was there to help us
during this tragedy. Our government has failed us and they were not
there to help us out from this disaster. We would have been better off
if a hurricane had destroyed our house. At least FEMA would have
Lastly, I am pretty sure my letter will change nothing but I was
asked to send it in and that is what I have done. Please help us.
Re: Chinese Drywall Victims
My husband and I are victims of Chinese Drywall. We saved up and
bought our new home in Florida in 2002. The home was built in 2001 and
we were its' first occupants. From the day we moved in, I had trouble
breathing. We had leaky evaporator coils, blackening of the wires and
metal in our home and knew something was seriously wrong.
My health has deteriorated. I now have asthma and am taking many
expensive medications. My husband has early COPD and we can only
breathe comfortably when we are outside our home. We cannot afford to
move and are therefore, trapped in this miserable situation. I am
starting to lose my hair and am tired all of the time. My energy level
is low and after much testing the doctor attributes it to the toxic
drywall. This is so depressing. We have tried to get help from the
builder, installer, supplier, insurance company and manufacturer to no
We need help and we need it now. We have lived in these conditions
for 9 years and feel that our health has definitely been compromised.
Why doesn't our government realize that so many of its' citizens
are suffering from this terrible devastation? We haven't done anything
wrong and yet we are the ones' suffering.
Thank you for your attention in this matter. I hope and pray that
someone will be able to help us.
My name is [redacted] and I live in Venice FL. We had Chinese
drywall in our home and we found out about it in March of 2009. We are
just one of the 50 to 60 home owners in our community that were
affected by the tainted drywall. For 3 years, we could never figure out
why we had so many electronics failures, discolored metal items, and
repeated health issues. Some of the health issues were respiratory
illnesses, sore throat, nose bleeds, headache, nausea, eye irritation,
and a persistent cough. Other people have had much more serious
From May until November we could no longer sleep in our own home.
We cannot invite family and friends to visit us for fear of their
health. Those families with children also have the stress of what to do
about their children's health. We still had to make our mortgage
payments, insurance payments and pay our association fees on a home
that was worthless. We cannot live in them and we cannot sell them.
This has been described as a ``silent hurricane'' where the damage is
as bad as a hurricane, but we do not have photos from the air that
shows the devastation. In some regards this is worse because our
insurance companies are not covering the damage. As a result,
throughout our cities people are making choices between their health
and their financial futures on whether to stay. As people leave, the
blight of abandonment will take over and further negatively impact our
local economies for years. There is also a financial burden to the
local economy, the people who are only here for the winter are not
returning, so they are not here spending any money in the local areas.
The loss in the value of our homes is in the millions of dollars and
the decreased assessed values will affect property taxes. This may also
bring about another round of home foreclosures for the area.
We were fortunate enough to be able to remediate our home at a cost
near $150,000.00. The IRS changed the disaster tax laws, but it did not
really help. Many of the young working families do not have the cash to
make the repairs and the people who are retired who may have the
savings to make repairs do not have the income to use the deduction
from the remediation.
We are the victim's here we did nothing wrong. We have been given
the run around by every level of government and agency involved. No one
will take responsibility or hold the manufacturers accountable. Our
elected officials should be ashamed of themselves.
I would like to add out voice to the many Americans who have a
house that was built with Chinese Drywall. Three years ago when we
found out about this our house originally purchased new for $395,000 is
now basically worthless. You can imagine the concern an d pressures
that has put on a working family finding their largest asset is
worthless. I am so hopeful and faith in our government's ability to
work with us and find a solution to this horrific problem.
Thank you for you compassion and concern.
My name is [redacted]. I have a Masters in Nursing, so I am well
aware of the physical changes that occurred to my body while living in
the home. I was a healthy strong fit woman when I moved into that
house. I have been diagnosed with neuropathy and fibrocystic lungs.
When I heard the ``experts'' at the Senate hearing say there are no
health effects, I sat here and cried as I watched it live on the
internet. I will stand up in any Senate hearing or court of law and
tell you the hell that I have gone through because I bought a Chinese
On June 1, 2006, I purchased a home built with Chinese Drywall
(CDW). It is a toxic drywall that emits the following ``nerve gases'',
hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and carbon disulfide, as well as
the metal, strontium. The CDW first began eating my house, and
destroying anything with a silver or copper finished. It corroded the
electrical wiring, copper fixtures, electronics, appliances, mirrors,
and all the silver fixtures throughout the home. It emitted a noxious
smell that permeated my furniture, clothes, and anything else porous in
the home. The fibers in my clothes and shoes were breaking down. My
knit suits were losing their form. My hose would disintegrate as I
tried to put them on, and the dyes would get on my hands and the skin
on my legs. My shoes were leaking dyes onto my feet. There were also
physical changes happening to my body. My skin was absorbing hair
color, and my skin would peel off when I had my eyebrows waxed. My
nails began peeling. I was having neuromuscular pain in my legs, back
and neck. I would have trouble walking because of the pain. My balance
perception was off, I would fall or lose a stairstep. I started having
daily headaches, and I could no longer wear my contacts. My eyes felt
like I had glass in them. I started having trouble breathing, and
developed a noticeable raspy voice. We now call it the ``CDW voice''.
It was eating me alive and attacking my lungs, eyes, nose, throat,
muscles, nerves, genital and anal mucus membranes. I was dying in that
house, I just knew that something was drastically wrong. I had
rationalized all I could! I was in so much pain I was crying everyday.
When I finally found out what it was, I left that house and have not
gone back. That house frightened me.
I have over 30 documented Doctor visits during the 3 years that I
lived in that home. It has taken me nearly 2.5 years to feel some
normalcy in my health. I can no longer run, and I have pain every day.
It has cost me thousands of dollars. I had $50,000 in savings which
I burned through paying rent, condo fees on a Chinese Gas Chamber,
mortgage, thousands in medical expenses, medications, replacing
necessary items for daily living, lost work, not to mention the
thousands spent while in the house replacing almost every electrical
item I owned.
I lived, worked, and worked out in a 3 story townhome that had 153
sheets of CDW.
My dog nearly died in the house. She would not come in, I would
have to pick her up to get her in, and when she was in, she was hiding
under something to filter the air. She developed kidney disease. I
spent thousands on her medical care, too.
I spent over 40 years of my life working to have the American dream
of owning a beautiful home. It is all gone now, and I start my life
over at 61 years of age.
The builder, developer, supplier, insurance companies have left me
with the ``empty bag''. My credit has been destroyed, and I have a
mortgage and interest accumulating, and condo association suing me.
Make the Chinese accountable because if you don't, they will
continue to export every toxic waste in their country with ``goods'' to
I was given this e-mail address as a point of contact to provide
'testimony' to Senate Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and
Insurance. I am curious why the Consumer Product Safety Commission
isn't providing records of the homeowners who have registered with
them? It would seem the CPSC could easily provide all relevant data
that includes the number of residents stricken with Chinese Drywall as
well as other demographics that were included in the CPSC registration
process. This included information like number of family members living
in the home effected with Chinese Drywall, health issues, property
damages, and so on. As a government employee I find it painfully ironic
that as a busy, working, tax-paying American citizen I have to take yet
more time out of the day to write 'testimony' to the Senate about how
this Chinese Drywall is effecting me and my family. Why don't you all
also subpoena and examine the insurance claims filed and denied by
homeowners stricken with Chinese Drywall? Why is the burden of
informing my elected representatives on me? My congressional
representative is Bobby Scott and his office has plenty of information
on my particular case as I routinely shared information with them last
year as I worked through the self-remediation process. I stopped
contacting his office as it was apparent my government could care a
less about fixing this problem.
In a nutshell, here is my testimony. In order to fix the Chinese
Drywall problem in my home I self-remediated the drywall from my home
as no one was providing stricken homeowners with any assistance! The
cost of this self-remediation was well over $65,000. My personal
savings is depleted; I am in deeper debt as I used credit to purchase
materials when my savings ran out. I did receive forbearance from the
bank but now my credit is ruined and in much need of repair. The
downside of any forbearance is you're listed as 'seriously delinquent'
for not making your monthly mortgage payments something the bank
assured me would not happen as I was trying to fix my house--a shared
toxic asset that both the bank and I would lose money on should I have
chosen to abandon the property vice fix it!
Where has my government been during all this? They were and remain
Missing-In-Action and silent as could be . . . the Chinese have yet to
be held accountable for the destruction they've caused to so many
Americans. Yet, I continue to go to work, pay my taxes, and serve my
country fulfilling my end of the social contract between the citizens
and this government. Pathetic is the only word that can best describe
the lack of action and performance of our current government. There is
little wonder why the United States government has the lowest approval
ratings in its history. Trust me, I know first-hand the frustration and
disappointment many Americans feel toward their government. My message
is simple--do your damn job and represent the citizens of the United
States! Protect us from these types of unnecessary damages! You failed
to regulate the import of this toxic Chinese Drywall, and now you stand
silent as the Chinese stonewall us from getting answers to why and how
A beautiful home it was when we moved into it 2006, the answer to
our golden year dreams. And how soon this dream was destroyed!
Chinese Drywall reduced our lives to that of Nomads. For nearly
five years we have spent 40 percent of our time away from the odors and
gases in order to minimize exposure to same.
It has been and still is a nightmare. Expensive replacements of AC
components, electronic equipment, electrical motors of washing machines
My question to our government is: How long do we have to wait for
I would like to wish every Senator and Member Of The House a
happier Christmas than what ours is going to be. When you see the
smiles and happy faces in your homes, please think of us.
My home in FL is in Sun City Center and we built it in 2006 . . .
evidently not a great year for building in FL since many of us have
found ourselves with Chinese Drywall in our homes. We discovered this
in 2009. Since then, our builder, WCI has gone bankrupt and all other
responsible parties have been running for cover. I see from recent
articles that members of the Senate are feeling frustrated by the lack
of progress in resolving this issue. Needless to say, we homeowners are
feeling frustrated along with a feeling that this might never be fairly
My home is in Sun City Center and is a 55+ community. We don't have
$100,000 in our bank account to remediate our home on our own. Our home
is toxic. You only have to step into our front door to smell the
disintegrating Chinese Drywall. All products, whether they're produced
in the U.S. or imported from abroad should be held at consistent
standards and if those standards aren't met, then they need to be
recalled and fixed. This is done with many products. . .cars being one
example . . . this should apply to Chinese Dry Wall as well.
I hope you can help . . . maybe it takes a woman to lead the charge
to resolve this issue.
Please let me know if there's any further information that would be
To Whom It May Concern,
The home we purchased in March of 2008 has Chinese Drywall.
We are part of the class action lawsuit which to date has provided
zero relief. Additionally, our Federal government and it's governing
bodies (house, senate, president, etc.) has provided zero relief. The
consumer protection agency has provided zero relief. The only thing the
Federal government has done successfully is spend tax payer money
discussing and discussing the problem while American's that have found
themselves in this same situation have been victimized. We have been
victimized by builders, realtors, lenders and everyone else that was
part of the transaction to sell us our home. While they all retained
the proceeds from the sale/purchase of our home we have lost everything
related to the purchase of our home including many possessions we had
prior to owning the Chinese Drywall home because of the corrosive
effects of this product on possessions like TVs, computers, small and
large appliances and family air looms like silver trays and other
precious metals that corroded.
We ended up short selling our home and losing everything we put
into it because we could not afford to fix it and we have not received
any relief or assistance to complete the repair. The Federal government
can't even agree on how to fix the problem. We couldn't live in the
house and we couldn't rent it so we ended up letting it go.
We had been believers in the American dream of home ownership but
because of the financial hardship associated with the Chinese Drywall
home we may never own another home.
While we suffered through this tragedy we watched as our government
bailed out huge financial institutions that should have been stopped
from their aggressive irresponsible behavior. Additionally, the cost of
operating the multi-district litigation has reached millions of dollars
between court costs, legal fees, communication costs, on and on and
none of that expense has yielded any relief to victims. The best course
of action in this scenario would have been to give the home owners
their down payment back plus verified improvement costs and let them
pursue another home. This would have addressed not just the personal
crisis that each victim was dealing with but it would have helped with
the larger housing market issue of unsold homes. The Federal government
could levy a tax on institution from the builders to the lenders to
cover this cost. They all contributed to the sale of these homes and
only the home owner was impacted. They should feel the brunt as well.
They would get some of it back if these home owners turned around and
purchased another home. To be sure the federal, state and local
governments aren't dealing with secondary issues related to these homes
years from now these homes should be bulldozed and disposed of like the
toxic waste they are.
The Federal government needs to make these home owners whole again
and provide ongoing medical monitoring to ensure major health side
effects are identified, communicated and addressed quickly. Many of us
have communicated the health effects such as sinus infections,
migraines and nose bleeds and yet the Federal government wants to
continue debating if there are real impacts. The government should
assume there are and monitor anyone that lived in these home until such
time as it can be definitively proven there are no effects.
As much trouble as the Federal government has had dealing with this
issue I hold little hope that it can prevent other foreign countries
from selling the United States similar products that present hazards to
health, environment and the economy. Something needs to be done to stop
similar products from entering our country.
The Federal government has failed it's citizens completely. This
was not a hard issue to understand and the impact was easily
identifiable and the number of people impacted was not as large as
other national disasters. If our government can't solve these kinds of
problems how can we ever expect bigger things from what is supposed to
be the most powerful country in the world. It is no wonder why the
American people have lost faith in our leaders.
Please do something and soon!!!
My name is [redacted] and I live in Va. Beach, Va. I am 54 years of
age--a college graduate, former teacher/coach and a law abiding
citizen. In 2005 I went through a divorce and my former wife and I
reached an mutual agreement of what would be best for our two sons. One
is currently a sophomore at Ole Miss and one is in the Math and Science
program at Linkhorn Park Elementary School. I share this with you
because what I am about to share with you has pretty much ruined my
financial freedom that I had worked my entire life--thus affecting my
Upon buying my ex wife out of our million dollar home, I came to
the conclusion in 2006 to downsize for the sake of my boys and I. This
was my attempt to prepare for retirement. I sold my home that I had
been in for 23 years and with proceeds bought a new condo a short walk
to the ocean for my boys and I. I furnished this new home with state of
the art appliances, new furniture in every room of the home and
upgrades throughout. Within a few months of living there I had to call
and express concern about my air conditioning not working, my 50 inch
television not working and noting that something was going on with my
health. With joint custody of my boys and a rotation of every other
week my ex wife and I became concerned because of nose bleeds, rough
coughs, congestion, and fatigue being exhibited by our boys. We
determined that it only occurred when they were with me. I also went to
the Doctor and it was determined that my thyroid was not functioning
and I am now on medicine for that. In addition, I am fatigued, out of
breath with short walks, and ultimately respiratory problems that do
not seem to be getting any better.
Imagine my surprise when my neighbor said that he thought we had
Chinese Drywall. I immediately put the pieces together and after a
little research knew that what had been happening was due to CDW. I
moved my boys out right away. I have been leasing a place for the past
2 and half years. I sold my condo at the urging of Chase for land
value--my total loss was 500k (five hundred thousand dollars) Yes--that
is the cash I had put into this final retirement home. Absolutely--no
one in our government has done anything to help those of us that have
this problem which is tied directly to the Chinese government.
My once sterling credit rating of 54 years of paying taxes and
contributing to society in a positive way is no longer. I could not
even get an apartment with one landlord because of my credit and having
to jump through hoops for Chase and my second lien Gateway Bank. And, I
offered to pay 6 months in advance. I continue to pay my fair share to
my ex for our boys, college for my son, taxes that come my way--but yet
am told that this is several year away from being settled in litigation
and payback for those of us whose lives were ruined. You might
understand that I am a little bitter and I look at our leaders in
Washington feeling ashamed that no one has made this a top priority.
I have been to Washington 3 times over the past few years. Most
recently at the feel good about one another Chinese--US Summit this
fall. What a joke!
Well--there it is--a brief story of my journey with Chinese
Drywall. I have told this story so many times to our leaders that
honestly--I have no faith that anyone will finally step up and make us
My husband and I had to downsize to a smaller home he had suffered
a stroke in 2001 at the age of 55. He is currently on disability and at
home 24/7. We build this home and moved in March of 2006. We put all
our money from the sale of our previous home into this home. We wanted
to make this our perfect home and our last as I reach retirement. We
did many upgrades inside and out. At this point in our lives we do not
have the resources to start over again if you know what I mean. We have
both worked hard all our lives for what we have. I have great concerns
about health issues with my husband's health issues, and I am a cancer
survivor since 2003. There are 7 homes in our subdivision that have
Knauf drywall mine is just 1 of the many stories out there. We are
praying for a reasonable settlement so we can rebuild our lives.
It is with reluctance that I write, because I don't like the doubt
and questioning that the current administration is putting on those of
us who have this problem.
However, I feel this issue is so important that I must do
When my wife and I built our dream vacation house near Cape Coral,
FL in 2006, we were ecstatic. But within a few years we had two air
conditioning units go bad; all our faucets, chrome trimmed lights and
some mirrors had to be replaced and the microwave stopped working. The
refrigerator required several service calls and still does not work
right. Every time we went to stay there for a while I would get
terribly congested and had a hard time breathing. This condition
cleared up within a week or two after we left.
Finally in 2010 we had our house inspected for Chinese drywall and
they found that we have about 50 percent CDW. Not being able to stand
it any longer, in 2011 we contracted to have the CDW removed according
to the court ordered specs and to be cleaned, sprayed and rebuilt.
We had to make special financial arrangements to do all this work
which cost approx. $88,000.00.
So far we are satisfied with the contractor, but the expense,
hassle and inconvenience is unbelievable! I can understand why some
people just walk away from their home.
Something needs to be done to help the people with CDW. Why doesn't
the government set up a fund like they did with BP in the Gulf
I find it incredible that in this country, such an obvious problem
can be swept under the proverbial rug.
Thank you for all you are doing to help us.
To Whom it May Concern,
My wife and I own an apartment in West Palm Beach FL that is
tainted with Chinese Dry Wall. The unit at The Whitney Condominium was
purchased for $303,000. While home values have dropped nationwide, we
have been hardest hit because no one would buy an apartment that you
can't live in. Conservatively, the unit value is barely $115,000. We
owe double that to the mortgage company. Fixing the problem will cost
tens of thousands, and no entity is stepping up to resolve the matter.
We are stuck with a $220,000 mortgage.
Dec 06, 2011
Prepared Statement of Husband, Parent and Owner of Home Built by Lennar
with Toxic Knauf Drywall from China
I appreciate the opportunity to come before you to discuss the
problems with this defective home building product, and also discuss
measures that will assist current owners of properties where this
defective material was used, and remedies to help prevent further
financial and health damages to everyone affected that result from the
use of this dangerous product.
My name is [redacted], and my wife [redacted], and 11 year old son
[redacted], moved into a home at [redacted], on November 30, 2006 that
was purchased from Lennar.
The purchase price of the home was $420,000. We added another
approximately $25,000 in home improvements. We have very good credit,
put approximately 30 percent down on the purchase, and can afford the
mortgage. We invested a majority of our savings, believing, we would be
living there for many years. All of our hopes were shattered, and a
nightmare began for us after less than a year in the home.
Soon after moving in during December 2006, problems both medically
and with the house HVAC system began.
In January 2007 we required a service call on the HVAC system as it
would not work in the heating mode.
In March 2007 a second service call on our HVAC system resulted in
the copper coils being replaced on the larger system due to Freon
We have a 2 zone independent of each other, HVAC system. One cools
and heats the main portion of the home, 2BR's, FR, LR,DR, Kitchen, 2
Bth Rms and Den and the other system supports the MBR and bath area.
In July 2007 the smaller HVAC system had their coils replaced. Thru
out 2007 my son [redacted] and I would develop random nose bleeds. I
began to get severe headaches as well. My doctor could not locate a
specific problem even though I complained of unexplained illness and
respiratory problems. I started to get Angina attacks that I never
experienced since before my heart bypass surgery in 1997. Since living
in this house I was given nitro stat patches to wear and began to carry
nitroglycerin pills that I used almost daily.
In 2008 three set of coils were replaced in our HVAC systems with
the last one happening in November 2008. The house began to have a
strange odor in it when we needed to use the heating part of the
system. The A/C people in November said I should speak to Lennar
because I may have a home infected with ``Chinese Dry Wall''. I placed
a call to Lennar and was told by them that their records indicate I
have a home constructed with ``Chinese Dry Wall'' !
I did a ``Google'' search on ``Chinese Dry Wall'' and it scared the
heck out of me based on what I read. I immediately contacted Lennar and
told them I wanted out of this house ASAP. They promised to get back to
me right away. Two weeks went by with no word from Lennar so I hired an
attorney to go after Lennar on our behalf. My attorney informed Lennnar
in writing we were making a claim per Florida Statute 550.
Lennar assured my attorney that they would move the ``MEDICO HOME''
up to the top of their priority list as they were dealing with other
homeowners in the Heritage Harbor sub division with the same problem we
were faced with.
In mid December 2008, I was contacted by Lennar who said they
wanted an Air Quality inspection firm to test my home for air
contamination. I agreed to accommodate them ASAP. I was told by Lennar
to set my A/C temperature at 68+ the night before the test so the house
would be cool when their testing company came. I did this and
``ENVIRON'' of Tampa, FL performed the air quality test the next day.
I did a ``GOOGLE'' search on testing homes for Chinese dry wall
emissions and all indications were that the home should be warm not ice
cold as I was told to do so.
I received a letter from ENVIRON that no toxic gasses of any type
were found in my home. I called the President of ENVIRON regarding the
test results and indicated that I felt the test was set up to benefit
them. I said my house smells awful and his results were in error.
Several days later ENVIRON issued to me a second report that indicated
Toxic sulfur emissions were detected in my home but the levels of
toxicity were not harmful to our health. I questioned ENVIRON on making
this statement and came to the conclusion that they had no medical
qualification to make such a claim.
The home became so foul smelling that I purchased a highly rated
Air Purifier that I kept running constantly in the MBR area where I
stayed with my wife and son. We avoided being in the rest of the home
as much as possible and ate our meals out at restaurants constantly
until we moved.
From December 2007 thru March 2008 when we vacated the home we
noticed a very fine black soot was appearing thru out the house on our
furnishings, rugs, works of art, jewelry and especially on anything
made of or containing silver .
Our furnishing, oriental rugs, beddings, linens', etc all smelled
of sulfur and our jewelry and works of art all became heavily tarnished
and pitted beyond anything I've ever seen before.
Our personal property losses from CDW are well over $250,000 and we
are making a claim request against Lennar for this loss.
We thought that overall, we were lucky to have Lennar for our
builder, but this may not be the case if repairs are not done properly.
It wasn't until after we moved into a rental home, that we discovered
just how badly all of our personal belongings and furnishings had been
cross contaminated to the core. They were so badly contaminated, some
of the guys doing the move, which had allergy sensitivities, were
having a terrible time handling it. The rental home smelled like a
Chinese drywall home with our belongings in it.
We informed Lennar. They said they would send someone out to HEPA
vacuum the belongings (they did this), and to then air it out and it
would all be fine soon after. Well, it is 10 weeks later, and we are
still getting exposure symptoms from the off gassing of our belongings,
such as continued headaches, sore throats, stuffy noses, raspy voices
and breathing difficulties.
We are convinced that the exposure to the sulfur gases are in fact,
the cause of all of our health problems, while living in that house.
There is no decontamination solution for the personal property that
Lennar must replace. We now have approximately $250,000 in belongings
and furnishings that are contaminated and useless to us.
We have also had to bear the expense, of buying some new furniture,
as well as dry cleaning bills to remove the contamination from bedding,
No one is warning people who move out, that their furniture has
also been contaminated, and that it may, still cause them trouble with
exposure symptoms to the gases.
In addition, after the home was gutted to wooden studs, trusses,
plywood and block, after 5 weeks of airing out, it still reeks of
sulfur gases, and can quickly in this hot and humid environment cause
exposure symptoms within ten minutes or so upon entering the home.
Lennar is ignoring this continued contamination of our home and was
continuing with repairs. I had the home inspected by a professional
construction firm that has inspected over 100 Lennar homes for Chinese
Dry Wall contamination. They confirmed the presence of very strong odor
within the home. I forwarded this report to Lennar as a courtesy.
I believe Lennar intends to leave these cross contaminated
materials in the residence, as well as reinstall cross contaminated
wood cabinetry and window treatments. Unless Lennar can find a safe and
proven decontamination solution, or agrees to replace all contaminated
materials, I cannot feel it is safe to move my family back into this
We will then have to bare the expense of paying rent elsewhere when
Lennar declares themselves finished, and we will not be able to
continue paying the mortgage and additional rent as well.
We will face financial ruin, thru no fault of ours, over this toxic
construction material that was allowed to come into the country.
Lennar assured us in writing that we would virtually have a brand
new home interior. This is turning out not to be true, as they are
intending to re-install, numerous cross contaminated materials that
still reek of sulfur. We had no way of knowing about the block and wood
cross contamination at the time either. We truly were assured that the
home, when completed would be 100 percent fully free of the toxic
sulfurous compounds contamination and odor. However, it appears to me
and others as well, that Lennar is not now doing this because of the
unexpected climbing costs to do this.
I implore you to aide in the removal of this dangerous blight,
further weakening an already distressed housing market. These homes may
be going into foreclosure, if the banks will even take them, will most
likely become left abandoned, and further hurt neighboring home values,
or further hurt new and unsuspecting owners. They should all be
identified, torn down and taken to the toxic waste dump. Then they
should be rebuilt, or the owners reimbursed, all at the expense of
everyone who profited from this toxic drywall along the way.
The housing market aware of this problem is scared right now with
this toxic wild card out there. Far too many families, suffering
deteriorating health, have yet to even learn that it may be the drywall
in their homes causing their families chronic illness. We are still
finding them in our neighborhood. This problem needs more regular
press, without the added minimization of health and safety risks.
In my experience, these structures are toxic gas chambers, not safe
homes for families to even live in again.
I am now personally aware of 7 year old boy from our sub-division,
diagnosed with an auto immune disorder, and numerous children being
diagnosed with asthma.
Is the Health Department going to wait for children to end up with
permanent brain, heart, lung, liver, kidney, or central nervous system
damage or dead, until they get serious and consistent with their alerts
for parents to find their children, safe havens away from these homes?
Is FEMA ever going to step in to provide a temporary safe haven,
for families that cannot afford a mortgage and rent, until a permanent
solution is found? I think it is more then called for.
Further, I would strongly advise any health or product safety
authorities to not further minimize the health risks of chronic
domestic exposure to these chemicals. You will only loose more consumer
trust, and put more families at a greater health risk, for more serious
chronic exposure effects. They have been waiting on direction from you,
and you are failing them right now.
In my experience, these structures are toxic gas chambers, not safe
homes for families.
I would like to thank Senator Nelson and his staff for answering
our pleas for help and everyone who has taken the time to come visit
these homes and families, to get firsthand knowledge of the gravity of
this problem, and take action to help resolve it. And I thank you for
the opportunity to share my first hand experience and suggestions for
much needed, emergency assistance.
I implore you, to find some way, to help people save their good
credit, who could have maintained making mortgage payments, or tried to
sell, and then couldn't because of a CDW disclosure, and had to flee
for health reasons.
They did not engage in an irresponsible financial act by moving out
and foregoing mortgage payments if they had too. They are acting on
behalf of securing the health and safety of their families. They are
the ones being truly responsible parents, looking out for the well
being of their children first, and should not be punished on their
credit reports for that.
What have we come to as a society, if we cannot support parents who
do the right thing, but rather seek to punish them, just for caring for
their families well being.
I am asking Legislatures for assistance in many areas on behalf of
all those impacted by the use of this defective and dangerous
Please provide adequate funding to the proper departments so they
can do the job that tax payers pay them to do. That involves, banning
and recalling defective and harmful products from the USA market place
The CPSC claims it has not had the funding or resources to put a
ban and recall on this product by now. Though I think they can at least
do that, until more can be learned.
I think it is shameful, that the health department has had to
claim, they do not have the funding or resources, to better inform the
I also recommend that you get the best of the best on this. I find
it appalling, that so many so called professional toxicologists seem to
have not a clue, about the cumulative effects of low level exposure to
these chemicals, or knowledge, easily obtainable from NIOSH, that the
immune system can lose tolerance to hydrogen sulfide at chronic low
level exposure, and that higher level exposure.
If we can so easily bail out Wall Street with billions, surely we
can help the American people thru this mess that is not of their
This is my testimony of my experience as a parent, husband, and
owner of a Toxic Chinese drywall house, as I know it to be the truth. I
also believe that I speak for many others who have not yet come out of
shock and denial, and into anger and found their voice, experiencing
the same nightmare my family has been living through, facing the same
tough choices between their families health, or financial ruin.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our desperate
crisis. As I write this letter to you on the 5th of October, 2009, I
cannot begin to imagine the challenges of representing a populace so
expansive. Which cases does one pursue and which ones are left to
themselves? My prayer for you is that God will empower you with such
strength and virtue that every person's needs in your constituency will
be fully met. Nothing is impossible with Him.
On November first of 2007 my wife and I left a closing attorney's
office excited and filled with vision for this new season of life to
which God had called us. With our three children, we were relocating
from Richmond to Newport News for our first lead role in a burgeoning
church. We knew the work would be difficult and demanding but deeply
fulfilling. We also knew that having just the right home for our family
was paramount to successfully transitioning from where I had called
home my entire life. Walking into our brand new town home in
Hollymeade, we knew we had chosen well.
I just celebrated my 42nd birthday in March of 2009, now having
suffered from chronic pain since the spring of 2008 that is symptomatic
of lupus, medically documented signs of a degenerative spine condition,
as well as everyone in our family struggling with fatigue, and our
middle child having serious bouts with eczema and needing steroid
breathing treatments. Our family was a picture of perfect health the
day we moved into our home, with proper diet, exercise, and a weekly
regime of rest being core values for us. Now, thousands of dollars in
medical bills in hand, we remain sick. We have moved out of our home
fearing the health of our family, desperately needing your attentive,
aggressive, and unrelenting help, action that will be timely and
There had always been an odd smell in our home, what I would
describe as an aged wood smell and sometimes gunpowdery. We had
constant hvac problems in addition to intermittent issues with our
smoke detection system. There were leaky plumbing problems in the
kitchen, a failed ceiling fan and other small electronic devices. In
August of 2009, we learned we had all the symptoms of Chinese Drywall
and upon further inspection, we found corrosive ground wiring,
tarnished door hinges and jewelry and upon removing a core sample of
drywall, found a smell in our walls that was frightening.
We know that God is working to help rescue us and our neighbors
from this tragedy, but we know that throughout history, He has
demonstrated a fondness for rescuing citizenry through those in
authority. Help us; be the saving grace of His hand.
To the Senate Subcommittee for Consumer Protection, Product Safety,
My wife and I worked long and hard all our lives and finally were
able to retire in 2006. We purchased our dream house in Sun City
Center, a 55+ community south of Tampa. It is a gorgeous home . . .
Everything we had hoped for when we retired.
However, it wasn't long after we moved in that our horrible
nightmare began . . . We learned that contaminated Chinese drywall was
used in the construction of our home. We have replaced two air
conditioning units, the microwave and just recently, the refrigerator.
The gases given off by the Chinese drywall corrode copper, silver and
chrome . . . It is only a matter of time before the rest of our
electronics and appliances succumb to the same fate. And only the Lord
knows what these corrosive gases are doing to our respiratory systems!
Sun City Center is a beautiful little town where many, many homes
have fallen victim to this terrible problem. Here we have solid
citizens who have worked hard all their lives, done what was asked of
them to help make this country great, and now are faced with a major
crisis through no fault of their own.
Because drywall made in China was used to build their homes, their
property values have gone down by 75-80 percent and in many cases they
have been forced to move out of their homes because of resulting health
Also, because most retirees live on a fixed income, they cannot
afford the cost ($100,000-$150,000) to remediate their homes. Many will
be forced to abandon their homes while others will be forced to deplete
the remainder of their life's savings to fix this problem that they did
There are thousands of homeowners around the country that have been
devastated by this crisis. My wife and I have been in limbo for several
years waiting for direction and help from our government.
Unfortunately, none has come. How can this government, the richest
country in the world, sit back and ignore the thousands of homeowners
(tax payers) that are suffering from this crisis. How can this country
continue to send billions of dollars to countries all over the world
and not help the citizens in this country that are ultimately paying
We understand that alliances are important but there is nothing as
important as keeping our own house strong and in sync with the values
that this country was founded on.
My wife and I extend an open invitation to all members of the
Senate Subcommittee to visit our lovely community and home to see (and
smell) firsthand this China-made disaster. We need your help. Don't
turn your back on us. We need you to get behind your own people and
help those that have helped make this country great.
I have a home in Parkland, Florida that is effected by CDW. I have
had all sorts of electrical and minor health issues. We have to
completely gut our home to fix it. It is a terrible situation that my
family and I have had to endure. We are victims that have not been
helped. Please help all of us out of this mess.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this to give you a brief history of what my wife and I
have had to go through regarding this problem. We built our dream home
in Cape Coral, Florida in 2001. Since my wife's firm had split and my
company had been sold we decided to move 10 years before we had planned
to retire and find jobs in Florida. In October 2001 we moved in to our
home. Immediately we started to have problems. A sulphur smell in the
home was blamed on the water, so we put in a whole house reverse
osmosis system. Our cast iron sink started to rust on the edges,
fixtures in the home were corroding, our antique silver spoon
collection in glass cases were tarnishing within days of cleaning. Our
treadmill electronics went out, after 10 months our A/C coils failed.
My wife had repeated sinus infections and headaches. I was treated for
severe dry eyes and had my tear ducts plugged. Both of our cars that
were garaged started to have electrical problems, the smoke alarms
would go off at 2:00 am, two TVs failed within months. We had to
replace the system board on our new computer and the printer stopped
printing in the middle of a print job. Our floor tile started popping
up, especially close to walls.
Of course we attributed all of this to just bad luck. In the
following eight years we replaced our A/C five times, replaced all of
our appliances, even though they were Maytag's top of the line. Oh, and
five TVs. My wife had a tumor on her thyroid develop, which a
specialist said was caused by an environmental problem. I developed
prostate cancer at age 54 and had it removed. I also developed Type II
Diabetes and had a heart-stent put in two years ago. (We were both in
excellent health prior to moving to Florida, I had a complete heart
scan in 2000, they found zero plaque and no family history.)
In July of 2009 I read an article about Chinese Drywall. It
mentioned that most of the homes had been built in 2004 thru 2006. But
a few were built in 2001. After doing further research, I concluded we
had all the classic symptoms. I then got up in to our attic, the first
piece of insulation I pulled away from the ceiling drywall had printed
in big blue letters, ``Made in China''. Of course both our homeowner's
and my builder's insurance denied our claims due to their ``pollution
exclusion''! You have got to be kidding me!
Earlier this year, with no recourse in sight we decided to get a
new mortgage and pay for remediation. After $110,000 in expense we
moved back in our home in April. Yes we could have walked away and let
the bank have it, but I have never walked away from any obligation and
I wasn't going to here either. Due to the economy, my job was
eliminated effective May lst. Finding a job has been a real task, who
wants to hire a 63 year old with health issues? I was forced to take
out social security. One major concern I have is that when all the
wiring was removed from our home it was placed into a large pile on our
driveway. The smell was awful, the biggest problem I saw was the scorch
marks on the wiring insulation. Obviously, at different times our
wiring got overheated! It is amazing to me that we did not have a fire.
It is my understanding that the Electrical Contractors Assoc. and the
CPSC has stated that the wiring does not need to be replaced. Maybe for
those homes built recently, but who has studied the homes built in 2000
Our home is wonderful now, but my wife will have to work until 65,
I am still looking for employment. We are very concerned about the long
term effects on our health.
Some say that heat and humidity aggravates the problem. Could there
be many more homes in the U.S. with the problem and it hasn't been
discovered yet? I believe this could be bigger that asbestos, but we
have only seen the tip of the iceberg.
I purchased my brand new home just off of [redacted] in the
Buckingham/Lehigh Acres Fl area back in January 2008. This was my first
home I purchased on my own and I was so proud of myself . . . ``my own
little home''. I purchased the home that was brand new and never lived
in from M.W. Johnson Homes. It had a one year warranty and I thought
this is the way to go . . . new house and no worries about things
breaking or needed replaced.
I lived in the house about a 1 year and 3 months when I started to
I had sore throat, glands were popping out of my neck, my Dr. put
me on a breath in-hailer-like I had asthma, I started to itch, I had a
rash on my legs and rash on my chest that were so bad that it would
bleed, I had 16 hour headaches and fatigued. I went to my doctor and
countless others that could not find anything wrong with me and they
said it was all in my head.
So finally in May 2009 my A/c went out on me and I called my
girlfriend and started crying and said ``I just can't take this . . .
My a/c broke not working and I'm so sick''. I was at my wits end . . .
I called a friend that did a/c work and he came over to look at my a/c
system. He said that I had Chinese Drywall that's why my a/c was broke.
My heart sank . . . I knew a little about this stuff but not bad it
I lost everything. I lost my past, my pictures of my life and the
different countries I lived in and all the stuff that I had inherited
from my parents that both are gone. I lost my perfect credit score of
790 that I worked my ass off to get everything that I wanted. These
item you cannot attach money to.
The truth I learned. I lost all my money that I put down on the
house. My belongings were all ruined and they were all contaminated by
the gas. I tried to clean them but they still had that crap on it. I
tried to professional clean it . . . but it still did not work. I tried
to clean it and bring it to my sister's house where I stayed for, for a
few weeks while I looked at an apartment. But my belongings off gassed
at my sister's house and then contaminated to her house and I had to
How do I know it was still contaminated . . . . . any time I get
near anything that has the Chinese drywall gas on it ..it makes me
itch. Not just a little itch but the worst itch you ever had in your
life time's 4.
So I lost everything like those people on TV that were hit by
earthquakes, tsunamis, flood, hurricanes and or tornadoes. They can
qualify for help threw a numbers of different types of help.
We get no help what so ever. Our government helps everyone else in
this world but not us.
There is more to my story that it's hard to tell the whole thing.
My husband is in the military and had a permanent change of duty
which moved us to Florida.
We purchased the home new from the Bank. Shortly after had air
conditioning issues which have been ongoing for 3.5 years.
We have no markings on the back of our drywall after two
inspections that Morgan and Morgan arranged. No one to pursue legally.
Our builder is out of business and it's a hopeless situation. We
expect there will be no remediation for us. My Husband, daughter and I
have frequent dizzy spells and consulted with our doctor who advised
with the unknown effects to move out of the home.
We are moving next month. My husband has to have good credit for
his security clearance through the DOD. We can't afford to rent and pay
the payment, but our health prevails.
A new home, this is the American dream we worked for. No one to
protect us from this?
To Whom It May Concern:
We built a new home in Tampa, FL in 2007 to ensure we had the
latest hurricane standards. We built a Custom Built home with concrete
block. We moved in the home November 2007. In February 2009 we had an
issue with the evaporator coil in the downstairs air conditioning unit
and due to the media around Chinese Drywall, were instructed to
investigate Chinese Drywall. The evaporator coil was replaced.
We spent time researching and contacted our builder who confirmed
that the Drywall supplier did stock Taihe (Taishan) drywall at the time
our home was built. In June we had non-destructive testing done that
confirmed the presence of Chinese Drywall. We were instructed to file a
home owner's insurance claim and we did. The claim was denied. Our
insurer was Olympus Insurance. Further sampling confirmed Chinese
Drywall made by Taishan. The builder made a claim with his insurer who
denied the claim. We started litigation, but to date have had no luck
and see no future of a settlement as the builder is bankrupt, the
drywall supplier is bankrupt, the insurers are all denying coverage and
Taishan is owned by the Chinese Government who is denying the claims
are even valid.
We had 4 evaporator coil failures, constant electronic issues, some
appliance failures and many fixtures tarnished and pitted. On top of
the problems with the home, our Homeowners Insurance decided to non-
renew our home and we were denied coverage by every insurer, secondary
insurer including Citizens. After countless hours (50+) of phone calls,
research, and the help of the Insurance Advocate Citizens decided to
insure us. This would have never been accomplished without the
Seeing no help in sight and determining that walking away from the
home was not a financial option, we began the remediation process. We
moved out in June and four years to the date finally moved back in. The
remediation was entirely self funded.
We find there are many misconceptions about our situation. 90
percent of people believe it is covered by insurance. Another large
percentage possibly as high believe we will receive a settlement. When
we moved back into the home our window coverings no longer fit the
windows in trying to determine how to retrofit them or how to obtain a
discount, we were told, `Oh you will definitely get reimbursed for this
kind of thing. You should be looking into that.' I would like to know
where this settlement is coming from since everyone is either denying
responsibility or bankrupt. This is the majority of people in our
situation. Very few were lucky enough to have a large builder who paid
the bill. Even fewer had their case taken to court and won. The fact
remains no one is taking responsibility for this tragedy. Yet we
continue to import other toxic Chinese materials into our country.
I am often asked why aren't the people who allowed the toxic
drywall into the country being held accountable. I have no idea. I
tried to contact these agencies, but had no response. I have no idea
why there seems to be no restrictions on China importing more products
based upon this problem and the other toxic products they have had over
the years. I have no idea why no one in our government believes any of
these issues are their problem to help correct. I have no idea why
there isn't a fund setup to help people in this situation. I have no
idea why this problem has largely been ignored and it seems like
everyone just thinks it will fix itself and go away. You bet I will
take this information with me to the polls and so will every other
individual in this situation. We know who was responsive and at least
tried to help and care and we know who largely ignored our calls and e-
mails. We have legislatures spending time and money on demanding that
schools change the name Winter Break to Christmas Break, yet they don't
want to spend any time debating helping victims of Chinese Drywall.
To those who are soliciting feedback and debating this issue we
thank you. We appreciate your efforts to try and help us. This is an
important issue and again we thank you for your time and effort.
I am currently one of the thousands of homeowners who unknowingly
purchased a home contaminated with Chinese drywall. In July 2007 I was
transferred from my Federal law enforcement position in NY to beautiful
Miami. It was the opportunity I had been waiting for, I finally made it
down to Miami and now would be able to purchase my first home. Living
in NY on a Federal salary made it difficult to purchase a home
therefore I felt very proud that I was finally able to have a piece of
the American Dream. I purchased my 2 bedroom condo in Doral, FL for
$270,000.00 and was expecting to someday have a family where I can
already have an established home.
Towards the end of 2008 I began hearing reports of some homes in
the Doral area that had been built with toxic drywall and that people
were having problems with their air conditioning, home appliances, and
began having health problems. I began investigating a little further
because the symptoms that were being discussed sounded very familiar to
me. My home always had a certain smell to it that I always believed was
like fresh paint and I assumed it was because it was a newer home. I
also recalled having burning eyes and sore throats often especially
when I would wake up in the morning. I remember seeing pictures of
corroded wiring and decided to look at my air conditioner and this is
when I discovered that my AC hose appeared to be tarnished. I
immediately reached out to my developer and advised them of my finding.
They sent someone to look at my AC and my electrical panel and they
confirmed it was corroding. I spoke to the attorney for the developer
and he advised me not to worry about it that they would see what they
could do. I never heard from them again, my developer disappeared, the
attorney never returned a phone call again. I contacted the City of
Doral and they sent an Inspector who confirmed that my property
contained toxic drywall, the minute the Inspector walked in he knew
because of the distinct odor. At this point was when I realized that
all my years of hard work had all gone down the drain. My home was
toxic and dangerous to my health.
Over the next several months and years my AC failed 4 times, I
purchased a new coil and within a few months that began leaking as well
and was completely corroded. The AC tech actually thought their had
been a fire inside my AC because the copper coils were completely
black. My stove's electricla panel stopped working as well therefore I
needed to pay several hundred dollars to get it fixed. I continued
getting sore throats and burning eyes but I had nowhere to go so I
continued living there hoping for a quick solution.
I contacted an attorney in January 2009 and filed a lawsuit. I
continued making my mortgage payments because I did not want to ruin my
excellent credit history but I finally gave up in July 2011. I got
married in November 2010 and realized that the health of my wife and
mine was more important then maintaining my credit history. We wanted
to begin a family and we knew that we did not want our baby anywhere
near this home. I decided to move into a rental home that at least I
know is not detrimental to my health.
It deeply angers and saddens me to see how our government has done
nothing to help homeowners with this problem. These homes were built
with faulty and dangerous materials and everyone has walked away from
us. The government, the bank, the association can care less. They still
want their taxes, their interest, and their monthly dues and could care
less that these homes are unliveable. In the U.S. we have the lemon law
to protect car buyers but I find it unbelieveable that when someone
buys a new home there are absolutely no protections. Buy at your own
risk. . . . I didn't know I had to inspect the drywall when purchasing
a new home and neither did the bank because they appraised it. . . .
I don't expect this lawsuit to go anywhere and decided to cut my
losses now knowing that the banks will probably come after me to pay up
in the future for a home that recently was appraised at $75,000.00 due
to the toxic drywall.
My home is currently in foreclosure, my credit has been ruined, I
will probably owe taxes, or the bank will try to sue me for the default
amount on the mortgage. This is a ``lose lose'' situation for all the
As a Federal law enforcement officer that investigates fraud, I
feel like I have had the biggest fraud in U.S. history committed
against me and my government (and employer) has done nothing to help.
I wish everyone luck with their homes and hope that someday we can
come out of this nightmare and maybe help make changes so that no other
American falls victim to anything like this again.
I would like to tell you our story, of two disabled person's
struggling to survive this Toxic Chemical Drywall Disaster. [Redacted]
was deemed totally and permanently disabled as determined by the two
years of the required Government evaluations, Government Doctor's
exams, Laboratory, and other extensive testing as required by the SSD
process with a personal appearance and found conclusive by the Federal
Court, I do not reveal all of this health information lightly but it is
in the best interest of all parties/victims who have suffered and
continue to suffer with disabilities and also Toxic Drywall. All
information is based on sound Science. He was severely injured and has
some genetic problems that contribute and now he is poisoned.
His Parents came to America, fleeing the War torn Hungary in 1956
during the Revolution to find their American Dream. His Parents became
Citizens, built their own home, started their own Machinery Facility
and contributed to this United States of America. [Redacted]'s Father
was a manufacturer for the United States Military, building parts which
were considered to be of high security clearance, he even designed a
part that is now on the moon, part of the Lunar Lem.
[Redacted] learned this trade from his Father and has great
knowledge and expertise in the manufacturing field, all fields. He is a
former Certified OSHA General Industry Outreach Trainer, this before
his disability. He is highly qualified with several Certificates in
various fields including being a Former Licensed Insurance Agent for
the State of Florida. I am a former bookkeeper and Office Manager
before being stricken with Lupus at an early age. In 2005 [redacted]
and I decided after my Disability continued and all of the issues along
with that and now his Disability that we would build, using his 401k
money, a home specifically designed for our Disabilities. We could no
longer climb stairs, no longer bend at certain degrees, we had and
still have severe limitations. Our home was very well thought out.
Every aspect, the counters are a perfect height, the Refrigerator is
elevated, we have a Physical Therapy Whirlpool, Our shower is built
with five shower heads as with Lupus, hot or cold changes affect me
tremendously. I will go as far as to tell you that we even have a
restroom built for Disabled Persons. Our home for our disabilities was
perfect. I cannot tell you how much we have missed it over the past
almost two years now. It is only 900 sq. ft. but built on a bigger slab
of concrete under roof and above code for possible
hurricanes,(ironically), so that I do not have to be in the sun, you
see with Lupus, the sun is a trigger as well as stress, actually,
stress is the number one trigger for a Lupus Patient resulting in a
Flare and with this Drywall Tragedy, I have had and continue to have
plenty of unwanted and undeserving stress.
We were the Owner/Builder, as this is allowed in Hillsborough
County Florida as long as we adhere to all contracting guidelines.
i.e., hiring licensed, Bonded and Insured Sub-Contractors. So in doing
this we find it very disheartening that we adhere to the guidelines but
the sub-contractors do not, or I should say they should share
responsibility in the materials installed in our home. There should be
product accountability when they purchase the drywall and bring into
the home. We Sub-Contracted out the drywall, etc. to Companies that we
thought we could trust. We moved in in January of 2007, so happy, we
finally could live out our limited days or I should say difficult days
in a perfect place for us. We were thrilled. My Lupus was in remission,
[Redacted] had his disability but he was o.k.. Shortly after moving in,
we began to have issues with the smoke detectors, air conditioner, I
started noticing corrosion in the bathroom but although I saved and
waited for my bathroom fixtures to go on sale and bought the best, I
thought maybe I would take them back to the store. Then . . . I began
to cough up blood, trips to the hospital and emergency room left
[redacted] and I with a visit, per the hospital, to a visit to the
local health department for possible TB testing. We were both coughing
up blood and horrendous phlegm, not to be gross on a public document
but factual. The testing was done, we did not and do not have TB.
We continued to feel ill. I had continuous nosebleeds and a severe
rash which was thought to be shingles but was treated and left
unexplained. [redacted], under routine labs began to have pancreatic
issues that he never had before and had previously before moving into
the home had routine blood work every 3 months. He also had a return of
his childhood asthma which in almost thirty years of marriage he never
used a rescue inhaler. He was put on one. I awoke to being numb on the
left side and paramedics were called when [redacted] could get no
response from me one morning, I went into now I know what was a
hypoglycemic stroke/coma with an unexplained flare of Lupus and was
hospitalized on Mega IV doses of medications, and remain with
neurological damage. I suffered from breathing issues/hyperinflated
lungs and severe fatigue. [Redacted], after many, many trips to the
physicians, and emergency rooms was put on mega doses of antibiotics
for what the Physicians believed was a lung issue . One morning after
his now normal pattern of having to sleep sitting up, I noticed he was
extremely cold, I took his temperature over a few hour period and it
was extremely low. I phoned the doctor where he stated that [redacted]
was hypothermic. I rushed him to the ER once again, he was hypothermic,
and had bi-lateral pneumonia.
The Physicians were puzzled because his immune system was basically
non-existent. Knowing that he had routine labs they, asked me what was
different. At this point I had heard of Chinese Drywall and saw the
signs in our home but never in a million years did I think we could
have it. I trusted the Sub-Contractor/Supplier . . . no longer. While
[redacted] was still hospitalized after 17 days, I contacted the
Florida Department of Health, they instructed me on what to do. Our Air
Conditioner Contractor came out, (the owner) and actually looked at the
coils, he had seen this many times and stated that we had bad drywall.
He did look at the rest of the home after that. I immediately told the
Physicians. We could not go home. They were going to put [redacted] in
a nursing home. This would be the first time in 28 years that we would
be separated, luckily we had a little money left so I rented an
apartment and took my Husband home to hopefully recover after having to
purchase new beds, furniture due to the gases and contaminants. He was
now so weak. The first couple of months he did get somewhat better but
never the same.He now has COPD, not before. He continues with left-
sided kidney pain, His pancreatitis did immediately go away as did my
problem with my blood sugar. He has lung damage and now marrow issues.
We will never be the same. We were not this way, even with our
Disabilities. There has been a drastic change since moving and living
in that home for two yrs. We have been ``Poisoned'' just as it is
written on the CPSC document done by Mr. Glen Dunlap, as well as other
While living in the first apartment, we have since had to move to
another, I contacted the CPSC for the second time, the first while
[redacted] was hospitalized. I got a reply e-mail from Christopher Day
and then a follow-up phone call from Mr.Dean Woodard, at the time he
was the Defect Investigator. He told me that Mr. Glen Dunlap would be
in touch. Mr. Glen Dunlap did phone me and wanted to talk about our
health first and then go to the home. We did. Mr.Dunlap left the house
with his eyes burning. He saw the Domestic Drywall Barcode, the same
piece that the Insurance Company had tested the month prior via an
Engineering Firm, and finding Defective/Reactive/Contaminated drywall
with Impurities.. Not Chinese. I asked Mr.Dunlap if he wanted to test
the piece also and he stated that he did not need to. I gave Mr.Dunlap
all of or most of our medical records, including the photos of the
inside of [redacted]'s windpipe. Approximately one month later we
received an e-mail from Mr. Dean Woodard for us to contact him. We did,
he told us specifically that he wanted to contact the Domestic
Wallboard Manufacturer and get them to settle. I found this to be the
best news that we had heard in a very long time. The Domestic
Manufacturer did come into our home, along with our Attorney at the
time, Robert (Bob) Gary, and it is videotaped. The Company, tore our
house apart finding nothing but their labels, taking pieces for testing
and has and continues to refuse to release our testing. Our Attorney at
the time did testing by a Doctor that found problems. I have recently
contacted Dean Woodard who stated that he cannot get our results from
the Domestic company now and that he bowed out due to us hiring an
Attorney,(we had to because the Domestic Drywall Company could not tell
me on the phone that we would have access to the results and even with
an Attorney and a signed agreement, they fulfilled that statement,
breaching the agreement)
This makes no sense that Mr. Woodard would state this, given the
fact that Mr. Cohen stated yesterday that they have ``no legal recourse
at this time to make the manufacturers do a recall'' and they are the
Government Agency that is suppose to handle this type of problem.and
was willing to handle ours . . . why? To the Senators: how can an
official from the Consumer Product Safety Commission offer to get a
Domestic Drywall Company to settle with us based on the facts he has in
his/their investigation(s) and now refuse to help? In the hearing,
Senator Warner stated that ``some companies have settled and they
usually do not do that unless they know they are going to be found
guilty''. How and why did the Consumer Product Safety Commission try to
get the Domestic Drywall Company to settle . . . I firmly believe that
what Senator Warner stated rings true, and apparently the Consumer
Product Safety Commission thought so as well. But what about the other
Families with this product ? They have been reported and some have not
because they hear that the Consumer Product Safety Commission will do
nothing, so why bother? I have written to them so many times.
I also contacted Senator Bill Nelson's office over the past year
and a half for help, as well as Senator Rhonda Storms for food
assistance, for FEMA for something. They have tried and helped as much
as possible. It is greatly appreciated.. I wrote and copied all of them
that [redacted] and I after selling everything that we own can no
longer afford rent and will be moving into a tent on our property as
soon as the order is fixed, we cannot afford for the County to condemn
our home.They do not strive to Condemn homes but it cannot sit there,
empty, being a blight to the Community although we have bartered with a
kind Family to keep up the yard. Hillsborough County is trying to
expand and improve our Community. We cannot get help, we live on a
severely fixed income and are paying half on rent. Budgets are
constrained in this County. They have done all that they can. We did
get a permit via help from a friend and luckily it was half price . . .
to remediate, inch by inch, extremely slowly, when and if we can, this
is keeping the home from being Condemned. The Building Official for
Hillsborough County, Mr. Wayne Francis knows of our plight and is very
We need help from FEMA. I have so many details and so much more to
share about how the CPSC and the other Federal Agencies, including
others . . . have failed us. We have got to hold the Manufacturers
accountable, the voluntary system/labeling is a smokescreen, if they
will not even fix our home what makes the Government think that they
will be voluntarily labeling anything and in actuality what chemicals
will they be labeling, as Mr. Cohen stated about the process of making
drywall to Senator Wicker. ``They use fly ash, and bake it''. If not
scrubbed properly, the fly ash will end up making everyone ill, it
contains over 22 contaminates and this will continue. Fly ash is a
general term, used by Mr. Neal Cohen, of the combination of ingredients
given off after burning coal and these ingredients are mercury, lead,
strontium, etc. There needs to be oversight. Some fly ash is imported.
This should be looked into. The Installers need to be held accountable,
the Suppliers, the Insurance Companies, all the way down the chain.
This will happen again or worse yet, continue to happen if something is
The bottom line for us is, how does a Federal Agency step in, say
they will help and then step out. How do they get to in my opinion, not
be entirely truthful with the Senate as to all of the facts and get by
with it. As an American Citizen who has to wear a respirator to go into
her own home and does live by the laws of this Country, I, we would
like to know when if anything will be done to fix the damage from this
Toxic Chemical Hurricane so that [redacted] and I can live in our home,
our American Dream, our Safe Haven and live out the rest of our days,
now even lessened.
We would just like to thank Chairman Pryor, Senator Warner, Senator
Wicker and Senator Marc Rubio for the questions asked of the witness
panel yesterday. The Witness Panel including Mr. Neal Cohen of the
Consumer Product Safety Commission, Dr. Portier of the CDC, Mr. Shelton
of V.A. and Ms. Brenda Brincku of Alva Fl. Now that I have told you our
story of our life and experience with Toxic Domestic Drywall, (which is
a different Domestic Company from Ms.Brincku)I would like to address
the answers given by some of the witness panel. I am doing this as a
Victim and I speak for my Husband [redacted] as well. As to Mr. Neal
Cohen's testimony, in my opinion he did not answer the questions
completely. There were direct questions posed to him about causation,
there were many theories that the C.P.S.C worked on including the
Sulphur Reducing Bacteria issue and if looked at closely (Peer
Reviewed, not just put on the Internet for anyone to contradict, which
is not a peer review study) then it would be mentioned in the hearing
that they did not find zero Sulphur Reducing Bacteria. This is one
causation, they, the CPSC also found other bacterium. I would just like
to say that I, as an American Citizen did contact the ``CPSC'S expert
scientist''. I have sent my serious concerns as to a possible health
aspect of just this issue in numerous e-mails to the CPSC, the CDC and
anyone and everyone that would listen. The only person that responded
was the Scientist and Mr. Christopher Day who said he forwarded.
As to other homeowners filing reports about other Domestic Drywall
Companies. I cannot say with certainty that Mr. Cohen is accurate but I
have read all of the In-Depth-Investigative reports on line. Our Report
has not been released on line. I do not know the Statute that Mr. Neal
Cohen quoted as it pertains to releasing the Domestic Manufacturer's
names but I would like it quoted and made a part of record. From my
experience there are quite a few Domestic Manufacturer's that have been
reported about/on. There is/was a Domestic Drywall Problem. Mr. Cohen's
quoting of the 11 home study in 2010, was not complete either. They did
find problems. Please ask for all documentation.
Mr. Portier's statement about these gases including Carbonyl being
Toxic is accurate. So given that statement, why then should the
American Citizen's have to wait another moment before our Government
declares this a National Disaster (it is a Toxic Hurricane) within our
own homes. We have been ``Poisoned'' and it is written on not only ours
but other In Depth Investigative Reports under . . . Injury Diagnosis.
If this were a Hurricane, we would have a FEMA Response. We have, all,
the victims have, begged for FEMA'S help. So many of us have been or
are still homeless. We are the ones that Ms.Brincku so diligently
pointed out when asked, that will be living in a tent on our property,
we have ordered it and had to reorder, as mentioned in our story. We
implore and have implored the CDC through Christopher Day of the CPSC
including sending photos of my Husbands windpipe while hospitalized
from the gases that Mr.Portier referred to, to help us and all of the
other victims that are suffering from tremendous health problems from,
immune issues, insulin, bone marrow, blood, kidney, seizures nasal
sores and cysts, etc. even cancer. Creating a ``safe level'' of these
gases is unacceptable, it is too late for us, we have all had long-term
exposure even at low levels. There should not ever be a standard level
for these gases and impurities. My County even refers to it as ``Septic
Drywall''. That along with Dr. Portier's statement about not allowing
his family to live in this environment speaks, as Senator Warner stated
``Volumes''. We need to be followed for this just as the CDC lists
asbestos on their registry, so should these gases be. Lead, Asbestos,
it makes no sense to not include this Drywall as a health hazard
although basically if listened to very closely, the words spoken at the
hearing by a couple of the witnesses, do just that.
To Whom wants to listen,
My name is [redacted] and my family and I own a Chinese Drywall
home. August 2009 is when our nightmare began!
We moved to Florida from Kansas, we had never even heard of ``Toxic
Chinese Drywall''! WE did all the right things when you buy a home, we
had it inspected (Little did we know, Chinese Drywall was not an item
covered by the inspection), we bought a home that we could afford and
did research on the neighborhood and schools. Within 90 days of moving
in, we had to move out! Our home was never lived in so it took only 90
days for the AC and man made humidity to start the effects of producing
a ``firecracker factory'' odor in our home. My 6 year old son's room
was the worst. He is my most precious gift and I was not about to risk
We all started getting sore throats, upper respiratory congestion,
muscle fatigue, I was the worst because I was in the home all day and
night. Needless to say that once we tore out two closets in the house,
we left never to return shortly after words. I'm predicting that
Chinese Dry wall is the ``next asbestos'' health concern. Is our
country really going to just wait and see how many of our children
develop serious illnesses as Adults due to Chinese Drywall? Just the
fact that so many people are complaining of illness should cause the
CDC to ban and recall the stuff! If it isn't dangerous to one's health
why are so many of our government agency's going in to homes wearing
full protective garb?
We have been faced with having to move several times(the first home
rented was foreclosed/short sold-the owner was taking our money and
running, never paying the mortgage). Three moves within a year and a
half. Financially, we will never be able to recover what we have lost,
not to mention having worked hard all my life to have perfect credit
and having to face that being destroyed. Emotionally, hours of therapy
and meds just to control my since of dispare that we had no where to
turn to fix the problem. You see my home being poisonous was not
something that I did yet I am paying the price.
We live in a wonderful country full of opportunity and justice. I'm
proud to be an American. I'm glad that my tax dollars help the needy
and that we are a nation under God. My question is this, why is it so
hard for me (a born and raised U.S. citizen) to get help when I need
it? A portion of the millions of dollars we send to other countries in
need would help put the lives of us ``victims'' back on track. Not to
mention how many jobs this could create and how the housing market may
get a helpful hand in rising home values. When are we going to make
China accountable for all the dangerous products that they are making
and sending over here?
I just hope that some of you have the heart and passion to take
serious action and help those who have been effected by Chinese
Drywall. The homeowners are the ``real victims'' whose day to day lives
and health are affected the most.
May you do the right thing,
My families story is complicated and has been a horrendous
experience for all of us but the thing to keep in mind as you read this
is that I consider my family to be one of the lucky (if that is even a
word you could us in describing anything related to this disaster) ones
in this Chinese Drywall (CDW) disaster. We were able to remove our
family from this toxic environment over 2.5 years ago. I have spent
more hours than imaginable for the last two and a half years listening
to the stories of American families facing sure financial ruin and
unknown health consequences due to the toxic import of Chinese Drywall.
We lose our house this week to the bank and this toxic import!
In March of 2009 there was a story written about Chinese Drywall
being installed in our area in homes that had been built in 2006. While
I had not experienced many of the problems with my home that were
listed in the article I decided that I should give a call to my drywall
installer and obtain a letter saying they did not use CDW in my home.
This way, in the future, when I was ready to sell my home, I would have
a letter in hand stating that it was not a toxic drywall home. This is
when the nightmare began. A few days later the owner of the drywall
company called to tell me that they DID install Chinese drywall in my
home and that there were 40 sheets (we found out later after obtaining
the delivery records that it was not 40 but 77). I was on a field trip
with my 9 year old daughter and her classmates in Jamestown when I
received this phone call. Needless to say I, realized the enormity of
this news and that our lives would be forever changed.
What hit me the most that day was the realization that this was why
my family and I had been so sick for the last 2 years. My oldest
daughter, then 11, was extremely ill and had missed so much school that
her doctor was running all kinds of blood tests, including mono, to try
and figure out why, what was once this health, extremely active,
dancer, honor student, could barely get out of bed. The next day I
called my oldest daughters doctor and tried to explain what little I
knew about Chinese Drywall. She told us to come in immediately. Upon
arrival she told us to get out of our the house for a week and see how
we all felt. Friends were going out of town for Spring Break so we went
and lived at their home. My youngest daughter at the time was 7 and
begged us to have Easter at home. We spent Easter morning at home and
moved out that afternoon. Never again have my daughters been back into
their home, seen their rooms or played with their toys.
After the week in our friends house another friend loaned us their
37 foot travel trailer and our family of 5 lived next to our million
dollar waterfront home in this trailer for 3 months. Remember, I told
you that we were the lucky ones. We did have friends that were able to
assist us and we did finally have the means to move our family into a
tiny new home, all be it a safe home, to raise our girls. That was over
2.5 years ago! Just as a point of reference to explain more about my
husband and myself. My husband came to this country when he was 5 from
Vietnam. My husband being the oldest and the rest of his family of 6
escaped the day the country fell and arrived here with the clothes on
their back. My father was a hard working New York City fire captain who
worked numerous jobs to support his family and get all of his children
through college while my mother worked in the school systems because
she understood the importance of having somebody home to raise the
children. My point in all of this is that my husband and I came from
very hard working middle class families, worked our way through college
and graduate school and worked very hard to obtain what we had. We had
built our dream home on the water to raise our three girls, kayak, fish
and enjoy the outdoors on our beautiful 2 acre property.
Two and a half years into this legal and political battle we
realize that by the time, if ever, any of this is settled our children
will most likely be grown and hopefully able to afford to attend
college. I have dedicated my life for the last 2 years to working to
bring attention to this issue. We have worked with our government
officials, starting locally going to our Congressman and Senators and
then coming back to the state level. Nothing over the last 2 years has
been done that would actually assist these Victims of Chinese Drywall
(VCDW). There may be other things happening in the world but to these
American families this is the most tumultuous part of our lives. What
we don't understand is our government's lack of acknowledgement of this
issue that is destroying tens of thousands of families. Please stop
worrying about offending China and realize that American homeowners and
families are being offended.
The Victims of Chinese Drywall are hurt and destroyed every time we
hear a story about our tax payer money going overseas to help foreign
families while we are all devastated by this toxic import. This is not
a simple choice of recalling yet another toxic product Made in China,
the estimate we received to restore our home was $380,000. While we did
have equity of $800,000 in that CDW home we cannot justify pouring any
more money into a home that made us so sick and that we may never be
able to sell after it is ``restored'' because there is no real
``protocol'' that is accepted by all in the field or the government
agency, CPSC, that are dealing with this situation. This toxic product
does not discriminate. Young families and singles who are just starting
out have lost everything. Seniors who put all of their money into
purchasing their retirement home are forced to remain in these toxic
homes due to lack of funds to move out and pay rent someplace else.
I must point out that we are over two and a half years into this
disaster and over two and a half years into not being able to live in
our homes and yet we still have no answers. We don't know how to fix
these homes, we don't know how this happened to the drywall, we don't
know how the drywall manufacturers can ensure that it will not happen
again and we still don't have a content sheet for what drywall is
allowed to contain. To top it all off, during the last two and a half
years it has never been made illegal to sell or import this product
into the United States. What are we doing to protect American families
from this toxic product?
Toxic products have been entering our country from China for more
than 12 years now. China started sending us small toxic products that
could be recalled and now we have let this grow into a product that has
destroyed American homes and made American families extremely ill. If
nothing is done to counteract these toxic imports the question is--What
will be next?! By ignoring the Chinese Drywall disaster we have given
the Chinese manufacturers carte blanche to do as they please and send
us whatever toxins they want to send our way!
While my daughters are very strong and have lived with what life
has handed them I feel this has taught them extreme disappointment in
their own country that never would I have expected for them to learn
EVER no less at such a young age. Sure they have met with Senator
Warner, Congressman Nye and numerous other officials but then only to
realize that after we leave our elected officials NOTHING happens to
right this wrong that has been done to their family and thousands of
other families across, what we used to think of as, this great country
The Congressional caucus and this Committee can:
(Most important is our health) Require that CDC start gathering
health data and appoint a specialist to be available to answer
ongoing health concerns from toxic drywall homeowners and their
Hold another hearing and call in the manufacturers to let them
know they will be held liable by our government for the
destruction of these homes, just like was done with Toyota,
Halliburton, BP and Transocean
Help homeowners restore their credit via extenuating
circumstance ruling to pre toxic drywall status
Help prevent foreclosure for the few homeowners that wish to
try to save their homes in the hopes of a legal settlement
Meet regularly to craft legislation and produce minutes to be
made available to the public
Call in the insurance industry to the next hearing to discuss
lack of coverage. To date all insurance from homeowners,
installers, suppliers and builders deny coverage citing the
Provide legislation that authorizes no-interest loans to
homeowners to remediate
Establish drywall standards to help prevent this in the future
Require that a government organization continue studies to
figure out how this happened to the drywall, was it bad mined
gypsum, coal flue gas desulfurized gypsum drywall, recycled
drywall or improperly cured drywall, to help ensure that this
problem never happens again?
We request that the AG look into the fact that some American
businesses knew about the problems caused by this toxic product
and chose to cover it up, not inform homeowners or the consumer
product safety commission. If this is not illegal then laws
need to be changed.
The toxic drywall homes that are now owned by the banks need
full disclosure upon sale so that 2nd generation families will
not become victims of this toxic product
CPSC has stated that they informed U.S. Customs that CDW should
not be allowed into our country. Where is this letter?
CPSC has stated that the owners of the stock piles of CDW that
are stored around the United States have been told not to sell
the drywall. Where is this letter?
Federal regulators have dropped the ball and we hope this committee
can help turn that around and send Federal assistance to these
devastated American families.
My Chinese drywall problem
This is my story about a condo I purchased in the summer of 2009
from Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae sold the unit to me with no disclosure that
the unit had Chinese drywall. After some investigating I found out the
unit and approximately 80 other units have Taishan drywall and were
unlivable. To date I have not slept one day in the unit and it is
financially running my life. This is the general timeline of the events
that happen to me and my family. The condo is part of a planned
community located in Port Saint Lucie Florida.
May 2nd we mailed Bayshore management an application
to be approved for the full time residence. My wife and three
year old child and I purchased the unit to relocate from New
York to Florida.
June 25 we were scheduled to close but the approval
letter from the board, permitting me to move in, was not
returned because the lawyer for Bayshore management Association
was still negotiating back fees. To date $11500 was owed to
Bayshore for previous maintenance fees. The president of the
Board of Directors had to sign off on our background check
allowing me and my family to move in.
July 1st, 2009 was a second closing date and we did
not close again, because Bayshore management's lawyer agreed on
amount to be paid back but did not sign the documents allowing
the closing to proceed. My wife went to [redacted], the manager
of Bayshore Management, asking him for pool key. He refused to
give key, questioned her about the payment of past association
fees that were owed.
July 3rd, 2009 Liberty title closed property through
mail and computer with Fannie Mae. They wired the money to
Fannie Mae and closed for me. I wired money to Liberty title
about two weeks prior.
July 4th and 5th three families moved out from our
street. Out of 22 units next to mine only 5 units had people in
July 6th at 9:30 am I was outside with furniture
deliveries and lady across a street and another neighbor told
me I can't move small child into the unit because it was toxic.
I said ``It can not be, the inspector check it''. I refused to
believe it. The neighbor and I went into my unit where he start
taking out the electrical outlets. The ground wires were black
along with AC coil. Along the same wall two appliances were
missing. The corrosion would rust the electrical components
that would render the appliance non-working. The neighbor told
me that over the last two weeks about twelve neighbors have
moved out because of corrosion and health problems linked to
July 6th about 10:30-11:30 I went to the satellite
office of Bayshore Management to speak to [redacted], the
association manager. I asked him if my unit has Chinese
drywall. The receptionist had a colored chart on her desk that
he looked at and said'' Yes, your unit has a ``mild case'' of
Chinese drywall. I would not bring my child in there.'' He also
recommended not taking the furniture out from there, suggesting
When I asked why he did not tell us prior to closing he replied'' I
can be sued for blowing a sale. And you should have been told by the
In my case Fannie Mae had deed to the condo and the original owner
was not on any of the closing contracts only Fannie Mae. I purchase a
toxic condo from Fannie Mae.
The chart that [redacted] was referring to was created by the
president of the Board, [redacted]. [Redacted] was paid to determine
all of the condo units with Chinese drywall; this was months prior to
my contract to purchase. Approximately eighty of the one hundred and
ten units had Chinese drywall.
[Redacted] did the unit evaluation back in March and with the Board
of Directors did the mailing to the residents informing them of the
toxic drywall in there unit. This letter went out in April certified
The letter for my unit went out and was singed by the previous
owner that was foreclosed over a year previously by Association and the
July 10th at 11:30am I called the PSL Property
Appraisers office. Their # is 772 337 5760. I told them about
my problem and they said to contact [redacted]. He is the
president of the Board of my condo association. They informed
me that Howard was at the Property Appraisers office month ago
giving them a list of all the toxic properties in my
The list would let the Property Appraisers office deduct the
amount of money to fix unit called ``Right to Fix'' from the
Appraised value which in turn lowers your taxes.
July 10th at 12:30 pm I called Fannie Mae at 972 773
4663. I told them that the unit they sold us is toxic, and I
and my family are homeless. They said they will do a ``Page
send'' and someone will call me in two days.
July 13th or 14th a rep called from Fannie Mae saying
that it was my job to do Due Diligence to find out history of
the unit. I told them that they did not disclose the findings
of the unit knowing that last owner foreclosed because of Toxic
drywall. The inspection service for the bank is First American
Field Service, there phone number is 1800 873 4532. I called
them and they said to call the bank if I have a problem.
First American Field Service left a large sticker across the
condo's front door with their name and phone number that said
they inspected the unit.
Additional information found on my closing contract:
Fannie Mae File #SL-09-0171. Alfred L. Gonzales of,
as partner of Adolno & Yoss LLP, Attorney in fact of Fannie Mae
A/IC./A/Federal National Mortgage Association.
Fannie Mae 972 773 4663 in Texas.
Liberty Title Company of America inc. 10060South
Federal Hwy., Port saint Lucie, FL, 34952 (772 335 7474).
Sharon Evans was handling the closing.
Property Appraisers office PSL (772) 337 5760. ``Cost
to cure'' adjust value paperwork was given to them by
association president. This outlined all of the infected units.
Business Tax Office. A&A Inspections is inspector we
hired to check the apartment for Chinese Drywall. I called them
if inspector is licensed and insured. He is licensed in PSL.
However, inspector is not a ``trade'' in Florida, therefore NO
insurance is required. The owners name is Steve Frank at 514 SE
Guava Terrace, Port Saint Lucie, FL, 34983. The office number
is (772) 336 0936, cell (772) 240 6219. He is in the phone book
as Licensed and Insured, but does not have insurance. I called
him to put in claim. He said ``NO insurance, sorry''?
First American Field Services for Fannie Mae 1800 873
4532, inspected the place for the bank prior to me buying it.
Burt is a property manager his onsite number is (772)
345 0596. He told me that I do not own outside walls, walls
touching another condo, ceiling and floors of my condo. However
they did not disclose to us that ``their'' part of the condo I
purchases is toxic. He is on the Board of Directors. Their
position is that the sell is required to disclose not the
In July of 2009 I purchased a two bedroom two bathroom one car
garage condo in a planned community, located in Port Saint Lucie
Florida. I purchased the unit in good faith from Fannie Mae not knowing
or ever hearing of Chinese drywall. I am from New York and this is a
problem typically found in the south. The unit was inspected by prior
to my purchase by First American Field Services I suspect this was for
Fannie Mae when they tool ownership, the finding were not disclosed to
me. I am presently strapped with a unit I can't live in, sell, or rent
because people are getting sick from the drywall. The Chinese drywall
problem has created a lot of foreclosures and in my case the person
required to disclose doesn't and the new homeowner is stuck with a
RE: Defective Drywall
We recently watched our dear friend, Brenda Brincku, testify before
your commission regarding the plight of thousands of homeowners that
have been plagued with defective drywall, without any assistance from
our insurance carriers or Federal government. The recognized affects of
defective drywall has been acknowledge for nearly four years now. There
have been countless studies that seem to prove inconclusive as to
whether there are any health or safety hazards. Yet every victim of a
defective drywall home can testify of numerous safety hazards in their
homes along with varied health conditions caused by the defective
My family has also been a victim of defective drywall at our Cape
Coral, Florida home. And, like the Brincku family, we were the owner/
builder that hired all of the sub contractors to build our dream home.
Therefore, we had no builder to go back to for any form of restitution
for this nightmare. We turned to our builder's risk insurance, only to
be denied, due to the pollution exclusion, which is in virtually every
Before discovering that our home was built with defective drywall,
we encountered numerous malfunctions of various electrical components
throughout our home. Our alarm system would go off for no reason; some
of the plastic components of the alarm system completely disintegrated;
the control panel on our wall oven (that may have been used a total
often times) completely malfunctioned and had to be replaced, our pool
control panel had to be replaced, brand new computers stopped working,
ceiling fans burnt up; and a sprinkler clock had to be replace. A
majority of our plumbing fixtures were pitted, mirrors were blackened
along the edges, two year old paint cans were completely rusted
through, screws completely rusted and pitted, and various tools rusted.
If the defective drywall can cause such damage to hard metals,
imagine the affects it can cause to the delicate tissues of the human
I have been an electrician for 32 years and have never seen copper
wiring turn black as I did in my own home. I initially did not feel
that the electric needed to be completely removed until I stripped
several feet of romex wire in various locations throughout my home. To
my surprise, the blackened copper had traveled intermittently
throughout all of the wiring in the house. The exterior of the romex
had also turned brown in various locations on all of the romex. I do
not how the CPSC can conclude that the wiring is not a safety hazard.
As far as the health affects, everyone in our family was affected
differently. I would get sore throats, headaches and cough, my children
were always lethargic and slept most of the time, and my wife would get
rashes, nose bleeds and headaches. These symptoms would always subside
after a few days back home in New Jersey. These are the varied symptoms
that are synonymous for every victim of defective drywall. Fortunately
for my family, this was not our primary residence, and we had somewhere
else to go to breathe clean air and not be sick on a daily basis.
Financially, the defective drywall has devastated our family. We
invested over $500,000.00 to build our dream home. We used our lifelong
savings along with taking a mortgage out on our primary residence in
New Jersey. When we discovered our home had the defective drywall, we
could not just walk away like so many families did, because we would
risk loosing our New Jersey home, in which the loan had been secured
with. We opted to fix our home immediately, instead of waiting years in
hopes of any type of lawsuit settlement or help from our government.
This was not an easy task, my wife and I were both employed full-time
in New Jersey, with two children, then ages 13 and 19. We flew back and
forth to Florida over 18 times in one year, along with driving to
Florida for one month to completely demo the house and rebuild it. We
rented an RV to sleep in on our property and worked 16-18 hours every
day for a month to get our home back to a livable condition. We had no
cooking facilities, because the Township would not permit us to hook
the RV up to any of the utilities, for fear of ground contamination. We
kept one toilet bowl in place along with a shower in the house. We
showered at night with flash lights for weeks while the electrical was
ripped out, with no walls for privacy. We had an outdoor sink for
cleaning and brushing our teeth. We also slept on our outside lanai a
few nights before we received permission to have the RV on our
I understand that you have not received many letters from the
thousands of victims of defective drywall. Please realize that we have
all been asking for help for several years now, only to have our pleas
fall upon deaf ears or have ``so called experts'' say that there are no
health or safety hazards. I invite each and every expert to spend one
week in a house with defective drywall, then tell us again that there
are no health or safety hazards. During your defective drywall hearing,
Senator Warner questioned Dr. Portier of the Center of Disease Control
if he would allow his family to live in a house with defective drywall
and his response was ``probably not``. Those words speak volumes as to
how he can then say that there are no health issues with the defective
drywall. Unfortunately, many victims have simply given up the fight and
have walked away from their homes and are now living in financial ruin.
I applaud the Brincku family for not giving up and renewing my faith
that someday someone will listen and help the thousands of American
people that have been affected by this disaster.
Thank you for the opportunity to share our story.
To Whom It May Concern:
We had built our home in Vero Beach, Florida in 2006. We paid top
dollar for it as it was the height of the market. We filled our home
with beautiful furnishings and things that we love. We were all
prepared, in September 2009, to sell our place in NY, retire and move
to Vero Beach. As luck, or should I say, as life happens our move never
happened. When we went down to our home in June of 2009 we realized our
A/C unit had yet again failed. Upon consultation with our AC repairman,
we for the first time heard the term Chinese drywall. Needless to say,
after months of painstaking agony we realized that our beautiful home
was being eroded from the inside by sulfuric acid.
We contacted the builder, who we learned was in the process of
filing for Chapter XI protection. We were devastated to learn that our
10-year structural guarantee was not worth the paper it was written on.
We proceeded next to our insurance company. They informed us that they
would not be getting involved with CDW because our insurance policy
precluded such coverage. No matter who we contacted, no one was
interested in our problems.
We next realized the only way to proceed was to hire an attorney
which we did. However, we were told that we were required to pay all of
the expenses of the home, mortgage, taxes, insurance, etc., on the
house. We could try to get our mortgage company to give us a
forbearance or we could sell the house. How could be sell a house with
toxic drywall to anyone else? So we were doomed to deal with this
Thereafter, we spent five hours a day for two years trying to
contact our Florida and NY representatives, but to no avail. We begged
and wrote letters to anyone that we could think of. This too was of no
use. There was no one out there who gave us any hope. It was either
paying all of our bills in a timely fashion or losing the credit it had
taken us a lifetime to build. Not to mention the house was
uninhabitable and corroding.
My husband, in the meantime, had sold his business in anticipation
of retiring to Florida. He was left unemployed, which has gone on for
the past 2.5 years. He has been forced to take menial jobs just to make
minimum wage. I was forced to put my retirement off and am working
double duty to try to make ends meet. This is the ``gold years'' for
us. A time in of our lives when we were hoping to be able to rest and
slow down, we have been forced to work harder than we ever imagined.
Our home in NY in June of 2009 was worth $200,000 more than it is
worth today. My husband and I are unable to sell our NY home, unable to
sell our Florida home (it is currently underwater financially)and we
are living a meager and depressed existence awaiting a settlement or
resolution of this horror. What should be the best years of our life
have turned into the worst.
During the course of the past two-and-a-half years I have been
shocked to learn that our government has refused to acknowledge the
desperate straits that working, responsible, middle class families have
been put in due to the corrosive product that was allowed into this
country. How can it be that here, in the land of opportunity, when you
pay your bills and abide by the laws of the land, that such a
devastation can occur? How can there be no criminal repercussions? How
can tens of thousands of families be hung out to dry after spending
their life savings on what they believed to be their dream homes? How
can children not be protected from illness and death due to toxic
products being allowed into our country?
Perhaps we are naive, but these American families, who are
responsible, hard working people, were taught to believe their country
and the values of right and wrong. These are the same values we teach
our children. Many of our victims served in the armed forces to protect
our country and the lives of its citizens. Yet the government has
chosen to remain silent and let us lose everything we have spent our
entire life working for. It just doesn't make any sense.
If we can provide you with any further information, do not hesitate
to contact us.
December 8, 2011
To Whom It May Concern:
My family and I are Toxic Chinese Drywall Victims. We built a house
with Knauf Drywall and our lives have been turned upside down ever
since. The roller coaster of emotions almost tore our marriage apart.
We lived there without knowing that we had it, and we all kept getting
upper respiratory infections. It got to the point where we were all on
antibiotics for something or the other all year. At one point, they
thought my son had Mono. They drew blood and took X-rays. That's the
image I have in my mind the most through all this. My son with his arm
begrudgingly out having blood taken out. Now, all I worry about are the
long term health effects that our exposure will have on our kids. My
daughter is having stomach aches for no reason at all. My mind wanders
down paths of their children being born with defects or maybe they're
sterile. Nobody knows yet what will happen to them. As far as my wife
and I are concerned, we have tingling in our hands and definite
As for the house, it is getting remediated. We were one of the
lucky ones who hung in there and paid our mortgage and were fortunate
to have Knauf and Banner Supply make things right. The stress has been
immense. There are days when I feel like I could snap for the least
little thing. Not only did the drywall take away our sanity, but it
took away thousands of dollars in antiques, car alternators, air
handlers, TV's, microwaves, hard drives, air purifiers, jewelry, and
God knows what else. But, what about the people who did not have Knauf
or any other help? What about the people who rented this houses and
were exposed to the gases? What about the workers who installed the
In a few months the ``Drywall Family'' will be moving back into our
neighborhood. Maybe now people will let their kids come over to play
with my kids. Maybe now they will come inside instead of standing out
in the rain. Maybe now we can move on. Maybe . . . if the health issues
go away. I know for a fact that there are going to be long term health
issues with myself, and that my exposure to the gasses will shorten my
life. That's no problem. But, what's really unsettling is that my
grandkids who aren't even born yet, might be dealing with a birth
defect because a builder didn't notify me, or that my kids will deal
with the harsh realities of a government who did very little in the
wake of their countries number one consumer product safety issue to hit
during their watch.
December 8, 2011
On behalf of my family I am personally asking for your help. I am
an Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel with over 20 years of
service, and found out a year ago that our house has Chinese Drywall.
As you are probably aware, tainted Chinese Drywall emits toxic fumes
that erode metals in the home (copper wire) and has been linked to
numerous health problems. Since we moved in the house in 2008 my family
has had two hospitalizations for respiratory related issues that we
attribute to these toxins. Since determining that our house was
infected, my family has lived in a single room of the drywall house
(most ventilated space), in a camper in the garage, and finally in a
small house. To say that two mortgages (with related costs) is a huge
financial drain is an understatement--I honestly don't know how long I
can maintain this.
The emotional toll that accompanies this issue has dominated my
family for the last year. Although we are signed up with the ongoing
class action law suit in Louisiana, and have contacted all of our State
and local governmental officials, very little progress is being made
overall. Local officials look at the problem as a Federal issue, and
those in D.C. see it as a litigation and/or Chinese diplomatic issue.
Therefore, almost nothing is being done to help those like my family
who are having significant challenges. This issue has affected my
career, in that I cannot realistically deploy without serious negative
repercussions to my family's ability to maintain two houses, one of
which requires constant maintenance due to the toxins' effects on the
appliances and internal wiring. I'm hoping that you are able to
influence our Nation's leaders to introduce legislation, or influence
our press corps to report on this issue to force our governmental to
acknowledge that more should be done. You have always been supportive
of our military, and have made a career of providing a ``voice'' to
those like me who don't have one--thank you.
As a military member I've been conditioned to offer recommendations
whenever I have a problem or complaint. Therefore, short-term our
government should establish an immediate financial remedy, allowing us
to fix and move back into our home. Mid-term, legislation should be
established that includes the Chinese Drywall issue as part of a more
encompassing package. Because thousands of homes are affected, and it
will take 20-30 workers to fix each, the overall ``throughput'' back
into our Nation's economy will be counted in the millions--both in
dollars and jobs. By establishing a funding line now, immediate impacts
will be felt at the local level, regionally and eventually throughout
the Nation as a whole. Finally, long-term solutions must center on
addressing China directly, by taking responsibility for the problem and
for the forgiveness of a portion of U.S. debt to reimburse the ``up
front'' costs to our government.
I sincerely thank you for taking the time to address this issue.
To Whom It May Concern:
Our drywall story begins back in February 2007. We built our home
on land which was given to us by [redacted] father. Within a little
over a year of living in the new house, our A/C coils quit working.
Within the 2.5 years we lived there we lost 3 sets of A/C coils and
other things broke as well: computer, microwave, our doorbell, and an
electric dog fence controller that was in a window sill. We had more
items malfunction, but those are the main ones that come to mind. As
far as the A/C unit we assumed we had gotten a defective one, and even
spoke with PennyWorth Homes (our builder) about this issue. They said
there was nothing they could do because our warranty had expired. We
had a lot of corrosion to the light fixtures, and the mirrors began to
Immediately upon moving in, [redacted] began to develop migraine
headaches daily. She had headaches in the past but never as frequently
as in this home. We both had nose bleeds, and general fatigue. In
August of 2007, we welcomed into the world our son, [redacted]. He was
born with respiratory issues and was in the NICU for 8 days. When he
came home, [redacted] began a battle with chronic ear infections and
rashes. Over and over we were at the pediatrician for the same thing.
Later, when they began testing of the home and cut into the walls, he
developed a nose bleed and from there he had CHRONIC bronchitis. It
seems for the past couple of years he has been constantly battling some
kind of respiratory issue. We've seen numerous doctors and the best
explanation we can get is: ``Healthy children can fight off these
bacteria they normally are exposed to but since he lived in a toxic
drywall home, it can be more difficult to recover quickly.'' Nebulizers
and inhalers have become routine in our home, even though we no longer
live in the toxic house. I am convinced this all happened when they
opened the walls and exposed us to the drywall dust.
[Redacted]'s mother had heard about Chinese Drywall on the news and
said, ``Maybe you all have this issue.'' We laughed it off since things
like that do not happen in Interlachen, Fl! Then in August of 2009, a
friend posted online that she had not been around because they had to
move due to Chinese Drywall. She posted a link to the state of Florida
site that tells the signs and symptoms. Honestly, some of the pictures
were so similar to our home! We were in shock. Immediately we hired an
investigator who said that we had all the signs of the problem. . . .
Except he couldn't find Chinese Drywall . . . only National Gypsum.
Over the next several days we spend hours researching defective
American drywall and learned of Brenda and George Brincku who had the
same problem as us.
We have since had other experts including one of the leading
environmental researchers from the University of Florida out to test
the house. This particular expert said that our drywall was off gassing
sulphur almost as much the Chinese cases. In fact, he said it was the
worst American Drywall off gassing he had seen.
Through our attorney's investigation, it has been concluded that
our National Gypsum wallboard has come from their Apollo Beach, FL
plant. After the chemical testing was completed it was determined that
the most problematic board was National Gypsum's greenboard which was
removed from the market in 2007.
Our lender is OneWest Bank and they are not working with us. We
recently had to hire a foreclosure attorney to help us deal with this
issue. This whole ordeal has taken a big financial impact on us as
well. Hiring the lawyers, and paying rent for the apartment, which is
more expensive than our mortgage payment and smaller, is costly. Jim's
credit has already taken a huge hit due to the missed payments, even
though it was perfect before the drywall incident.
We now are in a lawsuit with the Brincku's and the Garcia's against
National Gypsum. There is a big problem here, and we need answers. My
child has suffered from this, and still talks about the drywall even
though it's been almost two years since we left the house. He will be
four in August, and he really misses his ``blue house'' and living next
door to his Minima (grandmother)! I am worried about future health
risks. I need answers about my baby's health. I want to know this is
not something that will haunt us for years to come. Please help with
August 16, 2011
President Barack H. Obama,
RE: Chinese Drywall
Dear President Obama:
On August 3, 2010 we found out that we were among the thousands of
victims with homes built using defective Chinese drywall. Construction
on our 4,000 square foot home commenced in January 2006 and we moved in
over the Labor Day weekend 2006. Between the day we moved in and August
3rd of last year we had to replace our HVAC coils three times and we
had to replace two flat screen televisions. We thought we were just
having an unusual run of bad luck. Little did we suspect that our bad
luck would soon turn in to a nightmare. In July 2010 we received an
unsolicited letter in the mail from a local attorney which included a
copy of an invoice indicating that over 250 sheets of suspected Chinese
drywall were delivered to our lot during construction. The letter
advised us to have the home tested, which we did, confirming on August
3rd 2010 that we in fact did have defective Chinese drywall in the
We immediately joined the support group, Victims of Chinese
Drywall.com, started meeting with our elected Representatives and
Senators and quickly concluded that any help from our Government would
be years, maybe decades down the road. We became part of a class action
lawsuit against the Chinese manufacturer of the defective drywall and
filed lawsuits against our builder and the supplier of the drywall. We
expect to win judgments against both U.S. companies but we also expect
both to declare bankruptcy in order to avoid compensating their
victims. We have no idea how the litigation against the Chinese will
turn out as they are seeking to avoid jurisdiction in the United
States. It also appears that the insurance industry has found the
loopholes they need to avoid being part of the solution too. Another
looming unanswered question was what kind of impact was this
contaminated product having on our health? We could clearly see
evidence of pitting and corrosion on our lamps and jewelry, what was
happening to our lungs? We then decided that, like everything else in
our lives, it would be up to us to remedy the unfortunate situation we
fell victim to.
In January of this year we hired a contractor, packed up and moved
out of the house, tore out everything inside, including drywall,
electrical and plumbing fixtures leaving nothing but the studs. We let
the gutted house air out for a month, had an environmental engineer
certify that all defective drywall had been removed and the remains
cleaned, and proceeded to rebuild. We moved back in at the end of May
having depleted a significant portion of our life savings to cover all
of the costs. The anxiety hanging over our heads was now behind us. We
were one of the fortunate ones with the means to take care of ourselves
and feel sorry for those victims who are still living with the
nightmare. There is a saying that we are all two disasters away from
financial ruin. Well we are now down to one. The one bright spot, and
the only Government agency to offer any direct help to victims that we
know of, was the City of Virginia Beach which reduced the real estate
tax assessment on our home for a two year period.
Please give us an update as to where you are in addressing the
following questions--Where are you and Secretary of State Clinton in
pressuring the Chinese to compensate their victims in removing and
replacing the defective Chinese drywall similar to the way the you made
British Petroleum set up a ``victim's trust fund'' during last year's
oil spill disaster?
How do we get this situation declared as a National Disaster so
that Federal assistance dollars can be made available until the Chinese
step up to meet their obligations?
Who is pressuring the Insurance industry to step up and share at
least some of this burden?
When will CPSC Chairman Tenenbaum finish the CPSC analysis of this
defective product and issue final remediation guidance?
When will Fannie Mae President Williams provide clear, uniform
guidance to lenders and servicers for the victims of this defective
It is our understanding in talking with other victims that these
questions have been pending since early 2009. We urgently seek your
help in getting answers to the questions posed and look forward to your
response as quickly as possible.
Our Chinese Drywall Story
I worked part-time last year, after several years home with my son.
My entire salary and more is being absorbed by a defective condo that I
had to vacate but am still obligated to maintain. I worry daily about
the financial future of my family and about the possibility of
permanent health effects from having lived in a toxic condo for 4
years. I want to go back to school to train for a new career, but I
can't afford to, and resent that unforeseen outside forces have so much
control over my life and thoughts.
I respond to every plea from a charity (or my child's school) with
``No,'' though I believe in their mission, and I tell them why. When my
country aids victims of natural disasters, instead of feeling proud, I
am embarrassed at my reaction--what about the loss of my home and the
thousands of other families whose homes and futures have been ruined by
another unforeseen disaster, Chinese Drywall and the nearly complete
absence of responsibility by involved parties? Recent tornados have me
thinking, ``Gee, I wish a tornado or hurricane or fire would erase my
Florida home, because THEN someone would care, and insurance would pay,
and maybe even charitable organizations would help!''
I check the ``Made in'' tag on every item I contemplate purchasing,
and walk away from the ``Made in China'' items whenever possible (I'll
pay more for a similar item from elsewhere, or I don't need it). I
throw away my son's Halloween candy that is Made in China--at least he
won't eat their tainted products (my brother who works at Borden says
they mix Chinese-made chemicals into some dairy products, so maybe I
can't prevent it . . .). I successfully filled the goody bags from his
last birthday party with only home-made items, but he receives bags at
parties full of potentially toxic Chinese junk.
I once had a different attitude. I contributed thousands of dollars
over the years to charities. I used to enjoy shopping. Now, it is a
game of Keep Away from China! What happened? My home, built in 2006,
contains Chinese Drywall and the concomitant corroding metal and
vanishing value. My builder? Gone. My homeowner's insurance? Not their
problem. My attorneys? They'll get nearly half of any settlement, if
there even is a settlement, unless a U.S. judge can get the involved
foreign companies not only to remediate the homes, but to cover all
attorney and court costs--unlikely. Now, I wonder not only if my son
will go to college, but if my husband and I will ever retire. We have
both volunteered time and energy to help build Habitat for Humanity
homes--but no one will help us re-build our home? My husband and I
gladly put together a care package to send to an unknown family after
Hurricane Katrina. Ironically, that hurricane indirectly caused my
problem, by helping cause a domestic drywall shortage because of post-
hurricane re-building. We volunteered at a post-tornado clean-up a few
years ago; where are the post-drywall volunteers? The Wizard of Oz has
nothing in his bag for us.
We didn't go blindly into the abyss. Our home inspector detected
nothing amiss. If only he had been in on the communications between
Banner Drywall Supply and Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin! They were aware
that something was smelly in the drywall business, soon enough that we,
and many other families, could have backed out of the purchase and been
spared all this agony. But they conspired in silence, so we had no way
of knowing about the Chinese Drywall problem at that time. We excitedly
closed the deal, and got take-out food to eat on our new kitchen floor
that evening. Hey, as long as the fine folks at Banner and Knauf and
Taishan are making money, well that's what's really important!
What led us to this home? In 2006 my husband accepted a career
opportunity which moved us to Lee County in Florida; this was to be a
stop of 3-4 years before moving on to the next opportunity (his career
benefits from his working in different locations). We sold our home in
Tennessee, and logically desired to put all that money into a new home.
We were fortunate enough to get a mortgage and purchase price within
our means. (Nevertheless, we have watched our home value decline as the
market has declined, and so started singing the blues!) After 6 months
of renting, we moved ourselves and our healthy two-year hold into a new
condominium in Avalon Preserve in Ft. Myers.
In under two years, I noticed bathroom fixtures corroding--drain
covers in the tubs are pitted and flecked with black, mirrors have
black spots of de-silvering, and lavatory faucets we had upgraded are
pitted/flecked. I called the customer help line at Peerless to get
advice on these faucets, hoping that they were still under warranty (no
such luck). I was advised to clean them with vinegar and to keep them
waxed; some of the black did come off when cleaned, but built up again
quickly, despite the waxing. The other items? The builder must have put
in the cheapest possible stuff, we figured. Also in under two years, we
had to replace a smoke detector and a ceiling fan due to malfunction;
both of these were still under warranty. We also replaced a vacuum
cleaner, and threw out a VCR and two ``boom boxes.''
In Dec. 2008, I read the first article in the NewsPress about
families having defective drywall that required replacement of the AC
condenser coils as often as several times in a year. Because we had no
trouble with our AC, I didn't connect the dots to discover the source
of my bathroom fixture troubles. Suspicion began when I noticed AC
service trucks frequently parked in driveways on my street, and
recalled that there had been talk of defective AC parts in units on our
street since the first were occupied in summer 2006. When the unit
below mine was inspected and found to have defective drywall, I called
for AC service and learned that we, too, have defective drywall and a
deteriorating AC coil. Two drywall inspections and the video we took
during construction confirm the drywall source as China.
Our neighborhood has 104 condominium units in 26 buildings, all
completed in 2006 and 2007. It is unclear at this time how many units
have bad drywall. Our neighborhood clubhouse also has defective
drywall. Discovery of defective drywall has been a factor in several
foreclosures and sales well below expected market value. This in turn
has stressed all other owners, because the neighborhood association is
not receiving quarterly dues from owners of many affected units,
resulting in higher dues for the rest. And the reputation of the
neighborhood is tainted in the realty market.
In our building, two families that were renting on a yearly lease
moved out upon discovery of defective drywall. We were the only owner-
residents, and became solo residents of the building in 2009. We also
experienced our first AC coil failure that year. We didn't feel we
could afford to move out, but my husband began looking for a new
position in earnest, and in Nov. 2010 we vacated our condo and moved
away from Florida. We may have to pay for not only our own remediation
(or just walk away from lots of equity), but also be forced to help pay
for the clubhouse remediation.
Now, we pay a mortgage, electricity, and association dues for a
nearly new condo we do not live in, can not rent out, and are afraid to
sell at the price that defective drywall homes command. In addition, we
are paying monthly rent and utilities where we are now living. While we
are grateful to have a place to live, this rental house does not meet
our needs but we can't afford better rental property or a second
mortgage. Could my husband have delayed his job search until this
situation is resolved? I suppose, but why should a circumstance like
this be allowed to permanently alter our life course? And how long will
it take to resolve in the courts? And what are the long-term health
consequences? After reading the suspicions that several infant deaths
at Ft. Bragg may be associated with defective drywall, it was clear
that we had to put the health of our child before our financial fears.
Time will tell if it has affected our health. While living with
defective drywall, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and
had my gall bladder removed. Recently I was diagnosed with thyroiditis,
which is known to be affected by pollutants.
Please, please, please Mr. Obama and others--acknowledge that this
disaster is on par with ``natural'' ones, help all affected families,
and stop doing business with irresponsible, unrepentant China!
To Whom It May Concern:
June 21, 2002: How excited and proud I was that day when I moved
into my first home. Just four months later, on October 22nd, the air
conditioner stopped cooling. There was a leak, and when I called the
builder, his A/C contractor added Freon.
That day was the beginning of my story--a different one because
over the past nine years I have had numerous air conditioning
technicians look at the A/C coil failures with curiosity. They could
only speculate on what was causing black soot to appear on the copper.
Each time, they charged the A/C unit with Freon until, ultimately, the
coil had to be replaced. I have had eleven coils installed at my
expense, spent thousands, including a very expensive coil coated with a
substance made to sustain salt corrosion in the islands. It started
leaking 8 months after installation. I told myself that was it--I am
not putting in another coil, however, with the cost of putting in Freon
once a week . . . I even bought my own tank! It only made sense to
purchase yet another on Sept 3, 2011, knowing in 6 months it will need
to be replaced. Every 6 months I listen for the last bit of Freon to
run out from a corroded coil .
Unfortunately I will be long gone by then, having finally exhausted
myself mentally and physically--fearful of what 9 years of stress has
done to my body, let alone wondering what the toxicity that has
blackened 11 coils could've done, tarnished jewelry, electrical wiring
corrodes. I have had to replace five projection lamps in my Samsung DLP
TV. My 2006 Jeep, which I keep in the garage with the A/C air handler,
has had mysterious electrical issues. I have been afraid to turn the
gas on in winters, in fear those wires have become corroded as well.
Eventually I can repair my credit (the only way for me to escape
completely was to file bankruptcy), however, no repairing my health. I
absolutely can't do this anymore.
My home was inspected by a certified inspector. He sent core
drywall samples and pictures showing ``Made in China'' to Atlanta,
confirming the problem originated from contaminated Chinese Drywall. My
entire house was built with tainted drywall.
I feel my situation is atypical because I am not in a neighborhood
with others that have the Chinese Drywall. My lot sat empty for a
couple years before Kimball Hill Homes built on it. My builder filed
Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008. It seems to be a no-win situation, so
much for the American dream.
The Chinese Drywall Toxic Entombment--Let our story be heard
On January 10, 2007 we bought and moved into our home at [redacted]
home in Founder's Pointe. We were so excited to have finally bought our
dream home that we had saved for all our lives in a great neighborhood.
We met many friendly neighbors and thought we could not be happier.
We noticed (even before purchasing our home) from the start that
this house had a peculiar odor that was hard to describe. It was not
pleasant but was a sharp, caustic chemical unusual smell that is hard
to describe as we had never smelled anything like this before. We
believed when we questioned the bad smell, the Founder's Pointe East
West realtor, Amy Geaphart, told us, ``It is a new home smell.'' I
mentioned that none of the other new homes we were looking at had this
smell but she insisted, ``That different builders use different glues
and products that make each house smell different''. She was aware
evidently as she didn't disagree that the house smelled of something
odd. We innocently believed her. We continued for 3 years to notice the
smell that we referred started to refer to as the ``Chip Smell''
(builder's first name) since he was the builder. We could not
understand but hoped it would eventually go away.
Then the nightmare began to unfold.
I developed a chronic ``choking'' cough immediately that sent me to
the doctor. This was something I had never had in my life. Finally
after changing doctors three times, in attempt to find out the cause
and treatment I was being treated for asthma. I continuously coughed
each morning and night as if I was choking to death. I woke in the
night gasping for breath on more than one occasion. My husband started
having nose bleeds that he had never had in all the years together. Our
HVAC went out after turning it on the first summer. The builder
([redacted] with ABT Custom Builders, formally known as Area Builders
of Tidewater) replaced the parts. Then the upstairs HVAC unit went out
within the same time frame. This happened continuously throughout each
of the three summers until they had been replaced/repaired a total of 9
times. The last time our builder, [redacted] informed us we had nothing
but Chinese Drywall in our home. We were devastated beyond words. Over
the 3 years living there, we have lost 2 flat screens TV's ($3800.00),
computers, cameras, heirloom silver tea set, jewelry, all lamps wiring
are black and corroded. Since leaving this toxic chamber or horror,
three years living in a house of 100 percent CDW was too long. After
moving, we realized how bad everything smells (furniture, sofas,
mattresses, rugs, comforters, pillows, blankets, curtains, clothing,
linens, sheet, etc.). We've had to dispose of all the big items such as
sofas and mattresses). Also, our appliances and electrical items will
most likely not last as they were already coded (refrigerator, stove,
microwave, dryer, washer, lamps all have coded cords). The casualty
losses have been devastating not even including the CDW house loss.
The smell was in our furniture and everything to include our coats
and clothing. Our losses are overwhelming not to even mention our
health!! Plus financial devastation of our huge down payment and house
loss entirely. The house is now valued by Isle of Wight at $1,000.00
The nightmare continues like a black cloud following us. Aside from
the financial losses and major health problems there is no words to
describe the mental torture we've had to endure. We lived in this homes
for 3 years before this toxin was realized and we watched and felt our
health deteriorate, never imagining that it was from toxic drywall used
in their home. Our health, home, and finances are destroyed.
There is no help for the victims. We just had to leave with 247
sheets of this toxic drywall (entire house--worst in the neighborhood).
On our moving day, I had to go to the Chesapeake General Hospital
Emergency Room for chest pains, heart and respiratory issues. It just
got too bad and we had to go. We hope someone will help us.
We are approaching retirement age and have lost our home--couldn't
take it anymore. The depression and health problems were too much to
bear after realizing no one is helping. Not the builder, builder's
insurance, home owner's insurance, installer, supplier, and we are left
with the Chinese manufacturing company that will not even respond to
the court hearings. The class action law suit is nothing but an empty
judgement. It is like looking up a giant mountain to move and we are
holding two little shovels all on our own. It is bigger than us--we've
given up. We've recently discovered after moving that all our lamp
wiring is totally corroded and black (clear, gold tint cords show this
evidence). Also, couches, mattresses, pine furniture, chairs with
cushions and worst of all, my lifetime work of original oil paintings
all ruined with toxic sulfur smell. What will happen to them
eventually? We are afraid of the fire hazard from the corroded lamps
now in our new home and all our electrical items--refrigerator, stereo,
DVR, phones, 3 flatscreen tv's, cameras, microwave, computers, etc.
etc. The nightmare continues. More importantly we are very worried
about long term health effects since living in this toxic chamber of
horror entombment for 3 years before our builder told us we have 100
percent nothing but CDW. He or anyone has done nothing to help us. We
cannot remediate as it would be too expensive and the house would never
be value it should have been for resale. We have moved out and are done
with this. The health effects remind me of Agent Orange. At first the
medical authorities said Agent Orange had no major health risks and it
turned out to be just the opposite. Also, radon--2nd leading cause of
lung cancer. This is such a shame and tragedy for our entire country.
We have suffered enough emotionally, financially and mentally
through this toxic tragedy and our lives have been turned upside down
and inside out. We would have been much better if a tornado, hurricane,
flood or fire destroyed our house. As it is now, the house is worthless
and has in addition destroyed our lives. At least tornado, hurricane,
flood and fire victims are covered by home owner's insurance. Nothing
is helping or covering our loss. My husband [redacted] served in the
United States Marine Corp for 26 years and is a retired officer. He
feels as though he has been left on the battleground to die.
``The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.''--Albert Einstein
To: Whom it may concern 12/8/2011
We have Chinese drywall
We built our home in 2006/2007 with Monopoly Builders, who are now
bankrupt, and the 2 principals have fled to Mexico to be outside of our
legal system. [Redacted] the owner, placed all funds in a trust for his
wife and together they fled to Mexico protected by the trust in her
I am 60 years old, and have had my same job for 33 years.
[Redacted], my life partner, owns the home with me and we live here
We bought a lot in the Cape for appx $ 175,000, planning to build
our dream retirement home.
We built the home and have just over $500,000, in cash tied into
the home plus the $175,000 for the lot.
The home today is valued at, $61,370 by the Lee County Tax
appraiser. That's value is based on the pool and the land . The House
is of Zero value due to the Chinese Drywall
We have Pro-wall which was made by Taishan a company that's owned
by the Chinese Government. They claim that the U.S. courts have no
jurisdiction over them. They said Judge [redacted] rulings do not apply
Our 2 AC units have had the coils replaced twice. Home Tec, a local
service provider in SW Fl will no longer repair any AC damages under
our 5 year home a maintenance agreement.
State Farm has now taken our insurance rates up from just over
$3,000 per year to over $7,000 for the same coverage. They of course
denied any liability on the deffective drywall issues.
I believe that the rate increase is their way of forcing us to fine
new coverage which would then release them of any liability should a
court find that the Insurers are accountable
We have had 2 inspections of the home and both have confirmed the
Our attorney believes that it came from Stock Building supply.
[Redacted]'s daughter and son in law live here in the area as well
they used to often stay the weekends with us. They will no longer stay
and visit us much less often as they are concerned about their 3 year
olds exposure to the contaminated drywall.
I see the government spending billions of dollars to other
I have been a productive, taxpaying, law abiding citizen my entire
What now? How do I stay here and continue to live in fear of the
effects of the drywall. I do not have the funds to walk away and buy
another home. As it is I will need to work way past my retirement age.
My neighbors have asked what you are doing to fix the problem. Our
reduced value of the infected home is reducing the average market value
in the neighborhood. I guess that's the world we live in today.
Please do use all measure possible to force the Chinese Government
to come to the table in Jan in Hong Kong and make resolution so we can
remediate and live our lives in that American Dream we have worked so
long and hard to achieve
Please do contact me with any questions that you may have.
What joy filled my heart in 2006 as I moved into my `golden years'
dream home that I had built with a supposedly fine builder, WCI. I had
found the perfect place to live and enjoy golfing, traveling, fun
stuff, and lots of volunteer activities, so many wonderful things
available here in Sun City Center!
Why was some of my 14 karat jewelry turning dark? Why couldn't I
keep my silver polished as I had been doing all my married life? Why
was I suddenly getting headaches which I had never, ever had before?
Why were my eyes burning all the time?
Why within the warrantee period did my kitchen TV go bad? Happily
it was replaced without any cost to me. But within the next two years
my microwave went bad (a microwave???? I've had several built-ins in
houses I have owned and never a problem!!!) costing $145 to repair,
labor only. Then my 32'' and 42'' TVs went bad. The 32'' was $480 to
repair and the 42'' $535, but of interest: when my repair man called
the Toshiba repair desk about the 42'' one to get some help, they
informed him that in all their years of business they had never, ever
had this problem before with one of their sets!
I've had to replace the a/c coils ($878), the disposal ($205), the
ever-hot water at the sink ($365), the ice and water dispensers of my
refrigerator replaced ($538) and when the microwave went out the second
time, I opted for a countertop model which is now showing signs of not
working (three and six don't work). And I have now had to replace the
42'' TV ($695) and my computer ($469). My telephone set-up consists of
a base-station with a hands-free set and three chargers each with a
hands-free set. Two of those chargers no longer charge. I'll have to
replace the system ($200 approximately). We're talking about lots of
$$$$$$s here that I cannot afford! And when will it end.
My home owners insurance company took my claim quite seriously and
employed an engineering firm to study my situation at a cost of $3500.
Their report shows my home riddled with bad dry wall, but did not
identify what causes the problem. I have the pictures showing the
corrosion of receptacles, mirrors, jewelry, air conditioning coils,
I feel like I am sitting on all kinds of `time bombs,' not knowing
when the next one is going to explode and cost me additional funds I do
not have, were certainly not in my tight budget, should not ever have
had to spend, keeping me from traveling or do other things I should be
able to do in my `golden years,' but can't because my house is
worthless, just ask any real estate agent. You can't put it on the
market. No one would buy it.
All this through no fault of my own . . . . . I did not cause this,
am in no way responsible for this. I don't know which way to turn. I
cannot afford to fix my home, cannot afford to take out a low interest
rate loan to fix it, can barely get by on my present income. I planned
very well to live very comfortable here and even when the economy
turned sour, I have been able to manage, but to have this Chinese
drywall (CDW) dumped on me is just too much. The strain, the pressure
is just wearing me down . . . . . the stress is getting to me, and that
is totally wrong.
Testing of the CDW is going on, but it is taking too long. We need
answers now. We need to know what can be done and who is going to do it
and pay for it. Those in our neighborhood who have been told they don't
have the problem want to know how they can assure buyers of their homes
that they are free of CDW, so they are just about as involved in this
problem as we are.
We get some feedback off and on from our elected officials, but it
isn't enough. We need action quickly in the form of pushing CPSC, FEMA,
the Chinese government, and others harder to fix our problem quickly.
This horrible stress is like a knife cutting into every minute of
our lives, causing us to bleed our `golden years' out in pain, instead
of enjoying those years.
To Whom It May Concern:
While living in a home at [redacted] St Estero Florida our family
experienced many serious health related issues, including
hospitalization for pneumonia, bronchitis and later pulmonary embolism.
I was 48 years old at the time and in good health. Once we moved from
the rented home our health issues resolved and have not been present
since. This entire situation almost took my life, I spent 18 days in
intensive care in Naples Florida. I feel most likely others have lost
their lives in this fight to prove that Chinese Drywall is harmful to
your health. My story is long and painful, I would be happy to
elaborate with the health issues if anyone is interested in listening.
My Chinese drywall problem
This is my story about a condo I purchased in the summer of 2009
from Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae short sold the unit to me with no
disclosure that the unit had Chinese drywall. After some investigating
I found out the unit and approximately 80 other units have Taishan
drywall and were unlivable. To date I have not slept one day in the
unit and it is financially running my life. This is the general
timeline of the events that happen to me and my family.
July 1st my wife went to Bayshore management office
and spoke to Burt Kelly about requirements for the door handle.
She also asked: ``Is there anything we need to know before we
start to move to the apartment''. He said ``No''. Nataliya, my
wife, as well asked for the key to the pool. Then Burt said
that we can not be moving in yet because they don't know who we
are and they don't have a deed.
May 2nd we mailed Bayshore management an application
to be approved for the full time residence.
June 25 we were going to close but the letter from
the board allowing me to move in was not in the packet and the
lawyer for Bayshore management was negotiating back fees. To
date $11500 was owed to Bayshore for previous maintenance fees.
The president of the Board of Directors had to sing off
allowing me and my family to move in as my new full time
July 1st, 2009 was a second closing date and we did
not close again, because Bayshore management's lawyer agreed on
amount to be paid back but did not sing documents of our
approval. My wife went to [redacted], the manager of Bayshore
Management, asking him for pool key. He refused to give key,
questioned her about fees.
July 3rd, 2009 Liberty title closed property through
mail and computer with Fannie May. I wired money to Liberty
title about two weeks prior.
July 4th and 5th three families moved out from our
street. Out of 22 units next to mine only 5 units have people
July 6th at 9:30 am I was outside with furniture
deliveries and lady across a street and another neighbor told
me I can't move small child into the unit because it was toxic.
I said ``It can not be, the inspector check it''. I refused to
believe that. I went upstairs with the neighbor and start
taking out electrical outlets. The ground wires were black
along with AC coil. Two appliances were missing. The empty
neighborhood, moving out neighbors. Now it all made sense.
July 6th about 10:30-11:30 I went to the satellite
office of Bayshore Management to speak to [redacted]. I asked
him if my unit has Chinese drywall. The receptionist had a
colored chart on her desk that he looked at and said'' Yes,
your unit has a ``mild case'' of Chinese drywall. I would not
bring my child in there.'' He also recommended not taking the
furniture out from there, suggesting cross contamination.
When I asked why he did not tell us prior to closing he replied'' I
can be sued for blowing a sale. And you should have been told by the
The chart that [redacted] was referring to was created by the
president of the Board, Howard. He owns the Chinese Drywall screening
company. The Bayshore Management paid him $2300 to do the screening of
all apartments. Howard did the screening back in March and with the
Board of Directors did the mailing to the residents telling them of the
intensity of toxic drywall in each unit. This letter went out in April
The letter for my unit went out and was singed by the previous
owner that was foreclosed on 1.5 years previous by Traditions and the
July 10th at 11:30am I called the PSL Property
Appraisers office. I told them about my problem and they said
to contact [redacted], The president of the Board of condo
association for help. Howard was in here month ago giving them
a list of all the toxic properties in the Promenade. Their # is
772 337 5760. The list would let the Property Appraisers office
deduct the amount of money to fix unit called ``Right to Fix''
from the Appraised value which in turn lowers your taxes.
July 10th at 12:30 pm I called Fannie may at 972 773
4663. I told them that unit they sold us is toxic, and I and my
family are homeless. They said they will do a ``Page send'' and
someone will call me in two days.
July 13th or 14th a rep called from Fannie Mae saying
that it was my job to do Due Diligence to find out history of
the unit. I told them that they did not disclose the findings
of the unit knowing that last owner foreclosed because of it.
The inspection service for the bank is First American Field
service 1 800 873 4532. I called them and they said to call the
bank if I have a problem.
Fannie Mae 972 773 4663 in Texas. File #[redacted].
[Redacted] of, as partner of Adolno & Yoss LLP, Attorney in
fact of Fannie Mae A/IC./A/Federal National Mortgage
Liberty Title Company of America inc. 10060 South
Federal Hwy., Port Saint Lucie, FL, 34952 (772 335 7474).
[Redacted] was handling the closing.
Property Appraisers office PSL (772) 337 5760. ``Cost
to cure'' adjust value paperwork was given to them by
[redacted. for the Promenade at Tradition.
Business Tax Office. A&A Inspections is inspector we
hired to check the apartment for Chinese Drywall. I called them
if inspector is licensed and insured. He is licensed in PSL.
However, inspector is not a ``trade'' in Florida, therefore NO
insurance is required. The owners name is [redacted] at
[redacted], Port Saint Lucie, FL, 34983. The office number is
(772) 336 0936, cell (772) 240 6219. He is in the phone book as
Licensed and Insured, but does not have insurance. I called him
to put in claim. Hi said ``NO insurance, sorry''?
First American Field Services for Fannie Mae 1 800
873 4532, inspected the place for the bank prior to me buying
Chinese Drywall Screening LLC, [redacted]. Office
(772) 224 8660, cell (772) 201 0006.
[Redacted] is a property manager for the Promenade
section at Tradition for Bayshore Management. On site number
(772) 345 0596. He told me that I do not own outside walls,
walls touching another condo, ceiling and floors of my condo.
However they did not disclose to us that ``their'' part of the
condo I purchases is toxic. He is on the Board of Directors.
I am 76 years old; my wife is 72. Our retirement dream home has
been devastated and our health has been severely compromised by the
``silent, invisible hurricane of toxic Chinese drywall.''
We retired to Florida ten years ago, initially living in a condo
along the beach in the Clearwater area. In mid-August, 2004 we had our
first experience of hurricanes. Clearwater residents were warned to
prepare for a direct hit. As Hurricane Charley gathered strength,
heading for the Gulf Coast, we evacuated our 16th floor condo .
Reaching winds of 145 miles per hour, Charley turned towards land
further south at Charlotte Harbor and Punta Gorda, inflicting
unbelievable devastation on the residents there. While we were
enormously relieved, we realized that every serious hurricane threat
would require evacuation.
Within a month, Hurricane Jeanne, made its way northward through
the center of the state. While we were not in the direct path of
destruction, we were amazed at the ferocity of 70 to 80 mile per hour
winds. At one point we heard two loud crashes as the winds swept loose
pieces of tile from the roof of a neighboring condo, smashing into the
glass sliders of the condo immediately above and immediately below us,
exposing the condo interiors to the wind and rain, inflicting extensive
damage, ruining drapes, rugs and furniture. We were grateful for being
As we reflected on the widely circulated projection of 10 years of
more intense storm activity, we decided to move to a more secure inland
location. We began to search out 55+ communities within driving
distance of Tampa We visited the impressive WCI Sales Center and heard
the story of how Del Webb selected the Sun City Center location because
of its elevation, distance from the water and history of no hurricanes.
We were fascinated with the gracious, outgoing, welcoming way of being
of almost everyone we met and the incredible number of activities
available. We closed on our new home on December 1, 2006. Not having
children, this was to be our retirement dream home until age or
decreased mobility required a move to a Continuing Care Facility
offering Independent Living, Assisted Living & Nursing Care. Equity in
our home was foundational to our planning for later years. Today, our
primary asset, a mortgage free home, has little or no value; it is
Since moving into our home in December 2006, we have experienced
many health problems. Early on, we experienced nose bleeds, eye
irritation, constant runny nose, chest congestion and uncharacteristic
susceptibility to the flu before we knew anything about toxic drywall.
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with ``early Parkinson's disease. In
April of this year, my wife, [redacted], was diagnosed with breast
cancer, followed by a lumpectomy, 18 weeks of chemotherapy and is
currently completing 35 sessions of radiation. In August, breathing
difficulties resulted in my being hospitalized with an eventual
diagnosis of severe bronchitis; it took weeks to regain my strength.
In our very senior years, after a lifetime of careful and
conservative financial planning, we find ourselves financially
devastated by the unforeseeable and catastrophic storm of Chinese
drywall. Since moving in, our health has been seriously compromised.
We are beginning to lose hope for any positive results from the
complex and extended legal procedures. Our builder, WCI, declared
bankruptcy; our toxic drywall was manufactured by Taishan, a Chinese
company. The anxiety about our situation is incredibly stressful.
Along with many of our friends and neighbors, we need the
assistance of government, at local, state and national levels to help
us recover from the effects of this unforeseeable catastrophe.
We hired Aranda Homes to build our Florida dream house. We moved in
October 2006. From the start we had an unspecific smell in our home. We
assumed it was a ``new'' house smell. We chalked it up to everything
being brand ``new''. About 6 months later, as I was walking across the
floors with heels, I could hear ``hollow'' sounds. I became a little
concerned. I called [redacted] at Dom Izzo Tile. Through Aranda we were
connected to Dom Izzo Tile. (Aranda and Dom Izzo are partners.) It was
there that we picked out our carpet, cabinets, knobs, granite, tile,
etc. . . . [redacted] said there was nothing wrong. A couple of months
later I was hearing much more hollow sounds. Some of the tiles began to
crack. Pete had someone come to our house to fix the cracked tiles. As
the repairman tried to chisel out the broken tile(s) a domino effect
would take place. The surrounding tiles would ``pop'' up. Sometimes
they cracked and could not be reused and sometimes they didn't. After
numerous repair jobs we were running out of spare tiles. [Redacted] had
the repairman drill holes sporadically in the tiles and fill it with
some kind of adhesive. This did not work. The tiles tented. Again the
repairman came. Finally, one man came who said the tiles just could not
be replaced anymore. The tenting was in too many spots. In July 2008 we
had all our tile floors pulled up and replaced. We could not get the
same tiles anymore as they were discontinued. We were very unhappy
since this was a major factor to us building this home. The inside
tiles flowed to the outside lanai. When the slider and pocket doors
were open it all looked like one. However, this was another problem as
we later learned. Dom Izzo Tile used indoor tiles on our outside lanai.
When we first moved in, we'd get out of the pool and the floor became
very slippery when it was wet. We called [redacted] and he came over
with something that he brushed on the tiles. They became very dull but
it did fix the slipping problem for a period of time.
Approximately April 2009 we hired a handyman to install a ceiling
fan in the master bathroom because it was just too hot in there. About
a week after the installation he called us. He said he was troubled
about the wiring when he changed the fixture. He told us the wires were
very black for a new house and that they should have been a copper
color. We had recently heard about Chinese Drywall and the problems it
was causing. His concerns set off an alarm in our heads. We began
investigating. We took the switch plate covers off all the outlets and
sure enough the wires were black. Our mirrors, faucets, and toilet
valves were pitted. We originally thought this was due to the fact that
we live on the canal and the water and humidity had something to do
with it. We also thought maybe they were just cheap fixtures. But now
everything was beginning to make sense. In May 2009 our air
conditioning broke. Turned out the coils were all black. Needless to
say we were in denial for a while even though the facts were all there.
Eventually, reality sunk in and we knew we had to do something. We had
a professional home inspection done. We had too much money invested in
this house. We bought the land and built during the housing boom. With
the Chinese Drywall it was worth nothing! In June 2010 we began
remediation with Shannon Holland of Abisso Cleanse. He and his company
did an outstanding job.
As I write this I am thinking about my next project. The outside
lanai tiles tented just last week. Does it never end?
I find it very disheartening that our government is turning its
back on us. There are so many people that have become ill because of
this contamination in our homes. We were fortunate enough to be able to
remediate. There are many families who just can not afford to leave
their homes. I feel so sad for the families that lost innocent babies
at Fort Bragg. Coincidence? I don't believe it! Will it take 10 years
like it did with September 11 to realize these sulfurs and chemicals
are harmful? We even have to pay taxes on a house that is worth $0. I
think if this happened in another country or to a group of well knowns
it would have been dealt with already. However, we are just a group of
middle class people, barely audible. When is the United States
government going to take a stand and do something to help--Go after the
companies that knowingly brought this crap into the our country!
To Whom It May Concern,
I have a historical house in Ft Lauderdale Florida. In 2005/2006 I
put an addition on my home using chinese drywall. I have had numerous
electrical problems, but mostly I have had eye and throat irritation. I
was getting nose bleeds for no reason. I tried to get my bank to lower
my interest rate to the then current rate. This would free up money to
repair my home slowly. I am a building contractor. I was told I do not
qualify since my income had dropped. I only qualify for the higher
rate. For health reasons I moved out of the house and stopped making
payments. I am still trying to keep my house, but I need help in fixing
my house. IndyMac just says they are a debt collector and no one can
answer my questions and they have never answered any of my suggestions
of how to work out a modification so I can keep the house. Now since I
do not live in the house I am not eligible for any help. The bank would
rather sell the house in foreclosure for 50 percent of the loan value
then work with me. Because our government has guaranteed, the loan so
why work with me. Chinese lead base paint in baby toys, tainted dog
food, drywall, etc, etc, no one in government cares.
In case my previous e-mail didn't go thru here it is again. My name
is [redacted]. I closed on my townhouse on December 21st 2007. I found
about the chinese drywall in October 2009 from my neighbor. I filed my
lawsuit with Richard Serpe on December 18th 2009. Unfortunately, I
cannot afford to move out for financial reasons. There is a rotten egg
smell that comes from the sulfur emitted from the walls. My
girlfriend's silver jewelry turned black. I have replaced about 4 or 5
evaporator coils. I have lost a lot of weight due to the toxic drywall.
Thanks for your concern.
My husband and I had our house built by Aranda homes in 2006. Two
years later we found out the house was built with toxic drywall. We do
not have Knauf so we do not qualify for the Knauf remediation project
and our builder took $300,000 of our money, gave us a defective and
worthless product and walked away with absolutely no responsibility or
accountability. At the age of 55 we had to take out a loan for $75,000
to fix our home. We will have to work until we are 80 to pay it off. We
were forced to move out in July of this year due to my sinus problems
and my husband's daily headaches. We were told that the United States
government has all but abandoned us. They have left the homeowner to
fight the Chinese government to try and get restitution. The United
States government allowed this toxic drywall into our country and into
our homes and now they want me to fight a foreign government to fix
this mess. There have been a lot of Americans hurt by this and
financially ruined. Thanks to the Chinese Government and the United
States government. I will never be able to retire. I will have to work
until my dying day to pay off a loan I never should have had. I paid
cash for my home in 2006 and three years later I am paying for it a
second time. It is certainly not fair that some people will get their
homes restored at no out of pocket to themselves and yet others are
left holding the bag. Where is the United States government? I have
paid my taxes my entire life. Why isn't the government taking care of
To Whom It May Concern:
We bought our CDW home (the dream retirement home) in 2006 and we
had health problems beginning in 2008. It began with running eyes,
followed by throat irritation, cough, headaches, tooth aches, hair
loss, breathing problems, insomnia etc. The smell was so bad it gave us
sevear head aches, to a point that we had to wear charcoal filter masks
to breath in my home. We pretty much lived out side of our house except
to sleep and go to the bathroom. We could not turn the air condition on
it the Florida heat, could not turn the heater on in the winter time.
It was a horrible time for us. Our builder declared bankruptcy so we
did not have any recourse, we took money out of our retirement fund and
had to rebuild it.
Your help in this matter would be appreciated.
I am writing to you to voice my frustration with the very slow
progress and inconclusive results of testing being conducted by the
Consumer Product Safety Commission on the harmful effects that the
presence of Chinese drywall may be having on homeowners throughout
Florida and the rest of the country.
I can't stress enough how serious this catastrophe is and the
negative affect it is having on the thousands of homeowners victimized?
I live in a retirement community. On my street alone, 75 percent of
the homes have defective drywall present. These are people who have put
most of their life savings into what was to be their dream home and now
are being saddled, through no fault of their own, with a situation
where their homes are in some cases unlivable and in all cases
unsalable. These homes present potentially dangerous health and fire
hazards, and the homeowners still have no answers from government
officials on what to do to fix the problem. The cost once determined to
fix the problem will, in fact, seriously impact their retirement income
and in some cases bankrupt these individuals.
The longer the testing process takes, the longer homeowners are put
at risk of contracting serious health conditions and potential
electrical fire hazards. This protracted testing timeline is also
putting tremendous financial strain on affected homeowners.
Many have had to move out of their homes and are now paying rent as
well as their mortgage. All homeowners affected by this disaster are
faced with homes that are unsalable and are seeing the value of their
homes reduced to zero. Many homeowners are being notified by their
homeowner's insurance companies that there is no coverage for Chinese
drywall damage and additionally their insurance coverage will be
dropped and HO policies will not be renewed until the problem is
remediated. Because there is still no conclusive word forthcoming from
state or Federal agencies on the proper process for remediation, many
homeowners will be left with their homes totally unprotected by
This is an untenable situation and requires immediate action on the
part of local, State and Federal elected officials. We need help now.
Without immediate help the problem will continue to worsen. The longer
people are left exposed to the health, fire hazard, and financial
stresses created by this catastrophic situation the more long term
lasting horrific effects will be realized by affected homeowners.
We need your help and we need it now.
To Whom It May Concern,
My husband and I have owned a Chinese drywall home for almost five
years now. We have not been able to live in this home for practically
three years now. We are having to rent a home which has put an enormous
financial strain on us on a retirement income. Our home was built by
WCI (which filed bankruptcy but now is building new homes across the
street from our home) with Taishan drywall and it has caused us many
health issues. While living in the home I had weekly nose bleeds,
gastroenterologist problems, insomnia, eye irritations, and enormous
fatigue. After undergoing an MRI. I had developed vertigo, the doctors
found that I have a vestibular disorder and I have also lost hearing in
one ear. My husband developed a rash and a cough that has not left him
to this day. He has undergone many tests and the only diagnosis from
the Doctor is Chinese Drywall Syndrome. I cannot express to you the
life we have been living in this nightmare. This travesty has drained
us not only financially but physically and emotionally. Someone has got
to help all the victims of Chinese drywall! I don't know how much
longer my husband and I will be able to continue renting. We still have
a mortgage on the Chinese drywall home, we rent and pay all the
utilities and we have had all kinds of medical bills. When is the
government going to step up and help all the victims in this country?
My name is [redacted]. My wife and I purchased a home in Parkland
Golf and CC in Parkland, FL in 2007 from the now bankrupt WCI. Who by
the way is now building again after reorganization. They built many
homes containing CDW and sold homes even after knowing the product was
defective. We both have been living in the home not wishing to default
in the hopes of remediating. We both have experienced health related
respiratory issues as well as headaches, etc. After 3 years of legal
battling we are pursuing remediation with Knauf, one of the companies
who supplied the drywall. If the government was smart they would pursue
financial remuneration to help all the homeowners to fix their homes.
This would put the entire construction industry to work on over 100K
homes and solve much of the unemployment issues which in turn
stimulates the economy.
Trapped in Birmingham!! Someone Help!!
Built our new dream home in December 2005 completed in June 2006,
and from the first week we moved in my new wife said there's a smell in
this house? Call the builder!!! (Eddelman Builders, Birmingham) and get
them to find this smell? Our new home was under warranty so the builder
sent his people out to try and resolve the smell issue, everyone
smelled the smell, but no resolution! After 6-7 months of complaining
to the Builder I contracted with a Home inspector to come in to find
the problem 4 hrs later the home inspector said he could not find the
smell? ``Everything looks ok'' That will be $400 please, I paid the man
and my wife kept complaining & we kept calling the builder. Our first
air conditioner went out in April 2007 the builder had it repaired 6
more service calls that summer, both HVAC units were replaced! the
paint in the bathrooms started streaking? called a paint contractor no
answer! the builders people said that ``we were taking to hot showers''
More calls to the builder more people came out with no resolution,
called the gas co. they smelled something too, but it wasn't Gas? and
all the while my wife was having one medical issue after the other! No
answers doctors bills, prescriptions, it seemed like everything was
caving in all around us, and then the letter came (certified mail) from
the builder that our home was suspected of having been built with
Chinese Drywall? Two teams (4-6 guys) each time came to the house and
both confirmed that we had the defective product!! Now it all made
since!!!! By March of 2010 my wife's medical problems had become so
acute that her Doctors recommended that the house could be causing the
health problems? and she should get out!! So in April 2010 we have
leased another home, and now I have a Mortgage on the defective home
that no one can live in, and a lease for a home that costs me and
additional $$$$$ every month and a house that I can't sell and that has
lost more than Half it value!! This is a nightmare we are trapped and
there is no end in sight. We have found out that after Katrina Jan 05
that there was a shortage of Drywall in the U.S. and the National Home
Builders Association was putting pressure on the Feds to strike down
the Drywall standards that were in effect and let the product from
China to be allowed in the U.S. The PAC's got their way, and the
drywall was allowed in more that 15M tons of the stuff!! And the
suppliers/builders bought it up (@ a lower price that U.S. drywall) And
passed it along as U.S. drywall at the higher price mind you!! And here
we are left to hang in the wind!! The Birmingham Homebuilders Assoc.
has recently stated in the Birmingham News that they were unaware of
any homes in the Birmingham market that had been built with the
defective product!!! Something is wrong with that statement (my builder
alone has a reported 40+ homes with the product! How many more of them
are in this market let alone the U.S.
We bought our brand new house in Year 2006, from beginning, we
noticed some strange smell in our house, and we thought it is new house
smell. After we lived in the house for about four months, my son
started to have nose bleeding, I started to have muscle pain and my
wife started to have headache.
I went to doctor/specialist many times and had CT scan, X-ray. The
doctors couldn't find the problems with my kidney, foot and arm where I
After one year, our A/C units, TVs, computers started to fail again
and again. The A/C coil copper pipes corroded and became complete black
color. We didn't know what caused the problems until one of mechanic
told us we must have Chinese Drywall installed in our house when he
replaced our A/C coil, and he run to attic and pulled out insulation
material away and found out the drywall labeled ``Venture Supply, Made
in Taihe, China''. He also gave us the layer phone number and let us
call lawyer to join the Class lawsuit.
Then I started to find the information related to Chinese Drywall
and check more evidences in our house. I found out our copper wire in
switch blacked out. Copper strings of baby grand piano became black
For safety and health reason, we decided to hire builder to repair
our house this year. Because of Chinese drywall, City lowered our house
structure value to $100. Bank of America declined our refinancing due
to the value of the house. We have to lie to other bank and say
remodeling house to get home equity loan (Fortunately, it doesn't
require house appraisal). After builder spent over four months and we
spent about $240,000, our house got repaired. Now we have to pay back
the money to bank from our own pocket.
This is most painful experience in our life.
After the recent Senate Hearing on Chinese Drywall (CDW), I was
told I needed to send correspondence to this e-mail address to tell
about our CDW experience.
I would like to tell our experience for the last (4) years in
trying to have responsible parties listen and help us resolve our
problem. We were totally destroyed by the hurricanes Jennie and
Frances, in the fall of 2004. The condo association and our insurance
replaced all the damage caused by these hurricanes. The condo
association contracted to replacing all of the drywall to a licensed
contractor who replaced all of the drywall in the entire condo in 2005.
We moved back in January of 2006. We began noticing a corrosion of the
pipes and eletrical wiring. We also noticed a strong odor, which later
we were told was sulfur dioxide. It was not livable unless we aired the
entire apartment, which we did by leaving all our windows open all day
and night unless it rained. We were later informed that all of the
drywall which was replaced was defective and that the contractor nor
the condo association were responsible for the defective material. My
insurance also refused to pay saying that they would not cover
defective material. After hiring an attorney and threatening the condo
association with a law suit they agreed to remove and replace only the
defective drywall which accrued in June 9f 2011. All of the additional
cost related to being damaged by the CDW and expense incurred to
achieve this task was a financial burden imposed on the homeowner. When
the task of removing and replacing all of the items required a toaal
cost out of pocket to us was $15,000.00 and I do not believe that the
homeowner should have been responsible for this disaster. The tainted
drywall which came from the Chinese Manufacturers should have been
inspected and approved by the U.S. Government, prior to being allowed
to installed in our homes. I don't believe that the financial
responsibility should be imposed on innocent homeowners
Thank you for your cooperation.
I am not poor yet. I have a home which I bought with all my savings
(So I don't have a mortgage in my retirement) This house has Chinese
drywall. It is so bad I cannot live in the house. I cannot sell or walk
away from the house. If I don't get relief I don't know what to do. I
pray to GOD that government look into this matter quickly and do the
right thing. Save me from poverty.
Both of my parents are immigrants who came to America with nickels
in their pockets and huge dreams. My father [redacted] has built some
of the most incredible skyscrapers that exist in New York City and its
surrounding boroughs today. My mom [redacted], amazing singer and
actress who even made the original cuts for the Original West Side
Story production, successfully raised two beautiful children tending to
home as a domestic homemaker. My parents, as hard as they worked never
lived in a new home. The built at [redacted] was not only a dream of
mine, but that of my parents. My father was onsite of the building of
the home daily and in contact with everyone who worked on the site. All
the bells and whistles were added to this home from custom granite
throughout, custom moldings, polished nickel, upgraded tiles inside and
outside, indoor Jacuzzi bathtub, outdoor Jacuzzi with waterfall pool,
upgraded center island in the kitchen, a 4th bedroom for a playroom for
the children, a golf cart plug, and the most gorgeous palms, hedges,
fruit trees, and flowers you could imagine. Lastly, we had someone come
in and custom paint each bedroom, bathrooms, ivy on the arches,
vineyard settings in our niche's . . . You name it. It's here.
With Joy we all celebrated the home closing and enjoyed every
holiday and weekend family event. This home wasn't my home--it was our
home--for family, cousins, friends, etc.
In April of 2007, I went through a very difficult divorce with my
ex-husband who had physically abused me. Because I was only a school
teacher, I could not afford the home myself, and my parents couldn't
let this home leave us. It took many, many months for us to come to a
solution. In the meantime, I had met and fell in love with my husband.
Together with his family--His father [redacted] a Yale Graduate and
[redacted] a Harvard Business and Smith graduate, all came to the
conclusion and agreed with my parents to allow my parents to take out a
mortgage on their free and paid home--at [redacted] in order to pay
this home off here at [redacted]. My husband and I never miss a
payment. My in-laws graciously added to our already incredible home
with priceless pieces of fine art that has been in the Hattemer and
Maynard families for generations.
Then, to find out about our drywall. Currently, we are still here
in the house. Financially we're a mess. So far beyond in bills,
creditors keep calling us. My husband and I have four jobs between us.
We are both public school teachers--educating tomorrow's leaders--
giving back to our community daily. I suffer constantly from Vertigo
and nausea. My baby boy wheezes constantly in his chest. His immune
system cannot clear his cold that has lasted for months. We now have
moved his crib into our room--sleep with the doors open. My older
daughter and son both have sleep issues. My elder son has bloody noses.
We are totally despondant. We cannot leave, for we would foreclose on
my parents home. My in-laws cannot help because the stock markets have
depleted their finances.
We have done nothing wrong. My parents have done nothing wrong. I
cannot get help from the banks. There is no equity in this home. A home
that was worth 425,000 when I closed is now worth literally 5,000
according to the Lee County Property Appraiser.
We can't even gut this house ourselves--because we cannot afford
renting a home that will fit five people.
We desperately need your help to give back 325,000 to a mortgage
company who has no sympathy for our predicament. When I call to explain
what's going on and seek help--They sell my parents loan to another
mortgage company. I still have home insurance, but that is because I
cannot tell them I have drywall. If I do, I lose my insurance. We have
Please, Please help us!
You do not have our testimony but I would like you to include.
We learned of CDW like all other Floridians in early 2009.
Our home was built in 2001. We always wondered why our AC coils
would fail approx every 9 months since we moved in. No one had answers
so we blamed it in the ``crappy brand'' the builder gave us. After
replacing coils 8 times in 7 years, we had enough and spent $5000 on a
BRAND NEW Trane AC unit (Oct 2008), learn of CDW in 2009 and have the
coils fail before the unit was 1 year old and again replaced 2 months
ago in our new unit.
I thought and only knew that AC coils were black until learning
We know understand why my cat of 10 years, suddenly died of a brain
tumor, after being in this home 5 years. Why she had unexplained
allergies, and respiratory problems in this home and not in homes we
lived in before 2001. Why my husbands burning in his mouth, ear pain,
nose bleeds and scabs in his nose could not be explained. Why both our
stomachs make terrible noise at any time and we have intestinal
problems. Why both of us have been embarrassed in front of people (work
included) when our stomachs make various sounds. Why my dry eyes,
hoarseness and ear ringing cannot be explained. I know understand why
my silver jewelry that I keep in ``tarnish free'' chests and some
pieces in sip lock bags inside the tarnish free chest, still tarnish.
My we had to keep replacing bathroom fixtures when they rusted within a
Why I have had to throw away decorative items and jewelry because
they had blacken beyond repair.
Our builder is not longer in business, my mortgage company stopped
calling me once they understood I have CDW.
Our home has been inspected by Spider Man Mulholland, a
toxicologist, the builders inspector, dry wall distributor inspector
and I've lost count of who else has walked through my home to conclude
we have CDW. The Consumer Safety Protection Commission has used this
home as part of their environmental air quality test; having multiple
units in my home for months.
Our home has 218 pieces of CDW supplied by Seacoast Supply, owned
by L&W, a subsidiary of U.S. Gypsum. Seacoast Supply was caught in a
lie and has admitted ownership for installing the 218 pieces in my
The attorney for Seacoast, David Connor, says they will remediate
but has not carried through on any promise--mediation, remediation,
protocol and client testimony. In fact, he asked us to provide our
initial remediation estimate to assist him in suing their importer,
Shamrock. All parties cry that they are the victim, but the only victim
is the actual homeowner. We did nothing to contribute or create this
We are frustrated with our local attorney who has included us in
class action lawsuits, which we never wanted, nor agreed to but were
told we are in them. We are encouraged not to opt out. We are promised
a lower fee to the attorney but he does not commit to the percentage.
The replies I have received form senators and representatives are
outright insulting. The CDW homeowner is the only one getting the short
end of this and again, we have done nothing to contribute or deserve
We can only say that back in 2001 and earlier since I've heard that
CDW has been in the U.S. since 1999, the construction industry only
wanted to cut corners and save on their cost while creating a false
promise of quality.
Our home was built to be our ``retirement'' home but it is worth
nothing except the land it sits on and even with that, the real estate
market is still at a low point. It has prevented us form moving on with
our lives and careers.
No one can put a price to the horrible arguments my husband and I
have had about our CDW, the attorneys, mediation, remediation and our
future. No one can put a price on our future health despite considering
ourselves to be pretty healthy. We are stuck paying on a mortgage for a
home that is worthless and we prefer not to walk away and ruin our
credit. We are the only ones being taken advantage of by those who are
out to make money on this horrible situation.
Information contained within this report was obtained from an on-
site visit with the homeowners at their house. During this visit,
photographs were taken and are attached as Attachment 1.
The homeowners consist of a 67-year-old female and a 62-year-old
male. No one else has lived with them in the home. The homeowners had
this house built as their dream home. They added many ``top of the
line'' extras when the house was built.
The builder began construction of the house on February 14, 2006.
The homeowners moved into the house on February 16, 2007. The house was
built by Bender Construction and Development Company, Inc, 3775 7th
Avenue N.W., Naples, FL 34120. The homeowners have lived in this house
full time since then, except for an occasional short time vacation.
The house is a two-story Florida house. It has 4,900 square feet
that includes a three to four car garage area on the back of the house.
There is a screened-in porch on the back of the house that runs the
length of the back of the house. On the front of the house, there are
two screened-in patios on the first floor and two screened-in porches
on the second floor. The house has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a
kitchen, a dining room, a family room, a laundry room and a large
foyer. The bedrooms and the stairs are carpeted. The family room has
hardwood floors and the kitchen, the laundry room and the bathrooms
have tile floors.
The house is constructed of concrete block stucco on the first
floor and a combination of wood frame and stucco on the second floor.
The house has a metal roof. The homeowner related that the house has
wood studs. All of the appliances were new Kitchen Aid appliances when
the homeowners moved into the house. The house is equipped with all
electric appliances. There is no natural gas or propane gas connected
to this house. The homeowners had an osmosis water filtering system and
a Hepa air filtering system installed when the house was built.
The walls in the house were painted before the homeowners moved
into their home. Since they have moved into the home, they have put up
window treatments and pictures but have not done any other major
changes to the house.
The homeowner related that when the house was in the middle of
construction, the builder told him that they were having a problem
obtaining drywall because of a shortage of drywall at the time. The
builder eventually found drywall for sale at a lumber store and
purchased the drywall used in this house from this lumber store. The
male homeowner reme mbered when the drywall was delivered to the
property because the delivery people left the drywall outside and he
carried the drywall inside the house so it would not get wet. At the
time, he noticed that the drywall had ``CHINA'' printed on the back of
the drywall. The builder hired a crew to install the drywall.
The female homeowner began having nose bleeds occasionally after
they moved into this house. She had never had nose bleeds before they
lived in this house. Also, she has had allergies in the past but they
have gotten progressively worse since they have lived in this house.
Also, the female homeowner had been in good health prior to living in
this house but in December of 2008, she had to go to the local
emergency room because of high blood pressure. She was diagnosed with a
blockage in her interior arteries and had to have two stents inserted
in her arteries. The male homeowner was concerned that his wife's
medical problems may have been because of the Chinese drywall that was
installed in their home.
The male homeowner has had respiratory congestion which has gotten
progressively worse since living in this house. He added that when he
and his wife are on vacation, there is a noticeable difference because
he does not have the respiratory congestion problems and his wife's
The male homeowner related that he never noticed an exact time when
these symptoms started but stated that since they have lived in this
house, the symptoms have gotten progressively worse.
The homeowners have five mixed breed dogs. All of their dogs are
healthy and do not appear to have any medical problems. The male
homeowner stated that the dogs rarely come inside the house. They stay
in the yard or on the porches.
The homeowners noticed a slight odor when they first moved into the
house. They attributed the odor to a ``new house'' odor. Also, they
have lived in Florida for many years and are used to a slight sulfur
odor, so they were not concerned about it.
This house has two air conditioning systems . One is a three ton
Carrier unit that is for the upstairs part of the house and the other
one is a two ton Carrier unit that is for the downstairs part of the
house. In February 2008, the three-ton air conditioner stopped working.
The air conditioning technician who came to determine the problem with
the air conditioner said the evaporator coils had to be replaced
because they had corroded. The homeowners had the evaporator coils
replaced. In June 2009, the homeowners began to have problems with this
same air conditioning unit. The technician came out again and said the
coils had to be replaced again because they were corroded. The coils
were replaced in July 2009 (Attachment 1, Photos 2-5).
The smaller air conditioning unit for the downstairs is not used as
frequently as the larger unit that is for the upstairs part of the
house. However, the coils in the smaller air conditioning unit had to
be replaced in March 2008 because the coils had corroded and the air
conditioning unit would not work (Attachment 1, Photo 6). Both of the
air conditioning units are top of the line Carrier units.
In the summer of 2007, the new electric Kitchen Air range stopped
working altogether. The technician who came out to repair it said that
the computer chip in the range stopped working and had to be replaced.
The new refrigerator that they purchased for the house when they had
the house built also stopped working. The technician who came out to
repair the refrigerator said that the relay inside the refrigerator
failed and it needed a new one. The female homeowner related that the
motherboard inside her sewing machine stopped working and she had to
have it replaced. Also, since they have lived in this home, she has two
IPODS stop working. She has returned them each time to the store to
receive a new one. The homeowners' stereo equipment has a scratching
sound on it when they try to use it. They believe the drywall is
emitting sulfur gases that affect the electronics in their appliances
and air conditioning units.
The female homeowner had several antique pieces of silver that had
been passed down to her from her grandmother. Since they have lived in
this house, the silver has turned black. She stated she had these
pieces for many years and they have never turned black until they moved
into this house (Attachment 1, Photos 10-12).
The male homeowner pointed out the copper pipes behind the washing
machine (Attachment 1, Photo 9). These pipes are copper and have turned
black. Also, he pointed out the copper pipe that runs outside of the
air conditioning units. The pipe has turned completely black. The
homeowner took several of the outlets apart and each one showed black
corrosion on the ground wires (Attachment 1, Photos 7-8).
The male homeowner is an experienced electrician and believes this
is a major safety issue because of the wires within the house. He
stated that the appliances and light fixtures and many other electrical
units are always plugged into the outlets whether they are operating or
not. When the wires are corroded, it may cause a fire.
The homeowner first learned of Chinese drywall problems when his
air conditioning unit coils had to be replaced the second time . He had
heard of problems with outside units that could be affected by a
sprinkler system that would be hitting the unit everyday because the
water may have some sulfur content. But he could not understand how the
coils in the units that are located in a closet inside their home would
corrode because they would never have been exposed to any type of
sulfur. The homeowner researched this problem on the computer and heard
about the Chinese drywall problems in the news. He remembered the
shipment of drywall that was delivered to his home site when they were
building the house and remembered that it was from China. The homeowner
pointed out where the drywall in the attic had printing on it that
reads ``KNAUF CHINA TIANJAN'' (Attachment 1, Photo 13). After he
learned about the problems with the Chinese drywall on the news, he
realized he and his wife were having the same problems with their
drywall which came from China.
The homeowners contacted an attorney and registered with him to
represent them in a class action suit for the people affected by the
Chinese drywall. Their attorney contacted their builder, Bender
Construction who sent out an inspector. Their inspector examined the
entire house. He told the homeowners that he could detect a sulfur odor
in the house. The builder's attorney contacted the supplier of the
Chinese drywall, the lumber Company. The lumber Company also sent out
an inspector to examine their house. He was also able to detect the
sulfur odor in the house. He examined the entire house and saw the
printing on the drywall in the attic. So far, the homeowners have not
received any of the reports from the two inspectors.
The homeowners are concerned about the effects the Chinese drywall
is having on their health. This is their dream home and do not want to
move out. They hope there is some remediation from either the builder
or the supplier so they can continue to live in their home.
The male homeowner added that his neighbors (his son-in-law and
step-daughter) had their home built at the same time by the same
builder. They also have the Chinese drywall in their home. Their home
was built in 2006 and they moved into their new home in approximately
November 2006. They have two young sons, a 9- year-old and a 5-year-
old. Both of their sons have developed nose bleeds since they have
lived in that house. They never had any nose bleeds before living in
the house. Also, their allergies have intensified since living there.
The homeowner was not sure if they have had any major problems with
their air conditioning units but did recall that they had to have their
dishwasher repaired since they have lived in the house.
The manufacturer of the drywall in the house was shown as KNAUF
CHINA TIANJAN. According to the homeowner, the drywall was purchased
from a store called 84 Lumber.
Photo 1--View of the homeowner's home
Photo 2--View of the three-ton air conditioning unit that is used for
the upstairs of the house
Photo 3--View of the copper wire that runs alongside the air
conditioning unit that has turned black
Photo 4--Close up view of the copper wire that runs alongside the air
conditioning unit where it has turned black
Photo 5--Close up view of the maintenance record attached to the larger
air conditioning unit showing the air conditioning coils have
been replaced on February 27, 2008 and again on July 3, 2009
Photo 6--Close up view of the maintenance record attached to the
smaller air conditioning unit showing the coils had to be
replaced on March 3, 2008
Photo 7--View of the ground wire that corroded and turned black in one
of the outlets
Photo 8--View of another outlet where the ground wire has corroded and
Photo 9--View of copper pipes behind the washing machine in the laundry
that have corroded and turned black
Photo 10--View of some antique silver that has signs of blackening and
Photo 11--View of an antique gravy bowl that has signs of blackening
and pitting marks
Photo 12--View of a silver plated serving spool that has signs of
blackening and pitting marks
Photo 13--View of drywall in the attic where the drywall had printing
that reads "KNAUF CHINA TIANJAN"