Thousands of homeowners who bought houses with Chinese drywall have filed hundreds of lawsuits against builders, suppliers and manufacturers. They complain that off-gassing from the wallboard is corroding everything from air conditioning coils to TVs, jewelry, appliances and plumbing — and making them ill. While a federal interagency task force continues to investigate, sporadic reports are surfacing from homeowners complaining of the same corrosive and health symptoms, but in houses constructed with American drywall. Several lawsuits have now been filed against American manufacturers. Those companies say their wallboard isn’t tainted. Brenda and George Brincku have a 3,150-square-foot dream home in Alva that they purposely built with American drywall to avoid any problems.
Their problems began 11 months ago.The health symptoms included nosebleeds, migraine headaches, itchy eyes and respiratory problems, Brenda Brincku said. They moved out March 14. “It’s consumed us, “ she said. “It’s destroyed our lives.” Since then, the Brinckus have connected with other people who have problems with American drywall. Brenda Brincku knows of homeowners in Fort Myers, Lehigh and Cape Coral locally, and Orlando, Gainesville, California, South Dakota and Canada who have problems with domestic drywall brands that include Georgia Pacific, National Gypsum and USG. “For all of us that have American drywall, it’s a victory in one sense that we’re able to get the word out, that it’s a problem,” Brenda Brincku said. On the other hand, “it’s really a little scary. We’re working on how big this problem is.” One theory is that scrap from homes made with Chinese drywall got into the production mainstream and were recycled as part of the domestic drywall production process.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission was asked by The News-Press at a Monday press teleconference whether any domestic drywall was being investigated. Scott Wolfson, commission spokesman, said there was no data on that issue. But the Brinckus have received an 180-page report from the commission investigation on her house, which confirmed the same corrosive symptoms. “These people all knew about that,” she said of the commission staff. “They knew. I’ve well informed them. And not to acknowledge that? That’s terrible.” Brenda Brincku said she also sent her list of names of those with possibly defective American drywall to a Florida investigator for the commission, but nothing happened. George Brincku first sent an e-mail to The News-Press on Jan. 21 seeking help, saying that his National Gypsum drywall was installed Aug. 13, 2004, the day Hurricane Charley hit. He had gone through seven copper cooling coils in his two air conditioning units in the four years since.
Sam Schiffman, chief legal counsel for National Gypsum, on March 4 told The News-Press that he had heard about speculation that some U.S. drywall manufacturers may have imported the Chinese drywall and then relabeled it as their own for distribution. National Gypsum had never done that, Schiffman said. National Gypsum, based in North Carolina, went on to test the Brincku home. Company officials said in an April 20 statement that the results of an investigation by an independent testing company showed that none of the drywall in the Brincku home has the problem characteristics of the defective drywall. The company recently once again denied that there is any problem with its drywall.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.