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Toxic Chinese Drywall Plaguing Virginia Developer

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A Virginia builder has confirmed that some of its homes were built with defective Chinese drywall.  The Dragas Companies is currently in the process of inspecting homes it built in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, and the developer is also paying to fix homes with imported drywall and  helping residents relocate for a few months while the work is being done.

In a statement Monday, The Dragas Companies said it determined that the imported drywall was installed in homes in two of its developments: The Hampshires at Greenbrier in Chesapeake and in Cromwell Park in Virginia Beach.  It  “appears to emit elevated levels of sulfur compounds that may corrode air conditioning coils, and may damage other mechanical and electrical systems over time,” the statement said.  Dragas said the drywall was imported by a U.S. supplier in 2006 and installed by a local subcontractor without its  knowledge.  The drywall may have been used in as many as 60 Dragas homes.

As we’ve been reporting for several months, complaints about tainted Chinese drywall first turned up in Florida.  The health department in that state has received more than 150 reports about drywall that emits a putrid, “rotten eggs” odor.  The fumes from the drywall have also been linked to corroding metals in many of the homes, and people living with the material have reported sinus and respiratory problems. Many Florida homeowners have had to leave their homes because the Chinese drywall has made them unlivable, and some builders in the state are scrambling to gut homes and replace the drywall.

Florida was only the start of the problem.  According to the consumer group America’s Watchdog, drywall from China was likely used in the Deep South, the Midwest, the Southwest and the Pacific Northwest, including Vancouver, British Columbia, and even Hawaii.

As we reported last week, a family from New Orleans has also filed a class action lawsuit against several drywall manufacturers. A similar lawsuit has been filed in Alabama, and in Florida, at least four are pending.

Late last week, the Florida Health Department released preliminary results from tests of three samples of Chinese drywall. Those tests found that the material contained higher levels of sulfuric and organic compounds than an American sample tested.  The three Chinese sample all contained traces of strontium sulfide while the American sample did not. Strontium sulfide is a gray powder that emits a “rotten eggs” odor when exposed to moist air.

The three Chinese samples also contained hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and carbon disulfide. All of these compounds are potentially toxic, and carbon disulfide in liquid form is extremely flammable. These were also found in the American sample, but could have been contaminated by the other samples, as all had been shipped together, the report said.

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