Chinese drywall complaints surface in South Mississippi

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - A defective drywall epidemic is surfacing in South Mississippi.

Earlier this year, there were hundreds of claims of bad drywall throughout Florida. Now homeowners in several other states are also reporting problems.

The term Chinese Drywall is not something many homeowners may be familiar with. Chinese drywall is simply, drywall imported from Asia. The product became prevalent in the United States after 2004 during the housing boom.

Now, Chinese Drywall is destroying homes at a rapid pace.

Round Rock subdivision is made up of more than 40 homes that are less than three years old.

A family that lives in one of the first homes built in the subdivision, say their home was built with Chinese Drywall.

"Within a year or so I had to get a new air conditioning unit. It was all corroded," said Chris Whitfield.

In less than three years, the Whitfields have replaced two A/C units. They have also lost three TVs, a computer and a washing machine due to corrosion.

"Then I started hearing about all of this and all the things that somebody else was talking about was happening to me," Whitfield said.

The Whitfield's are confident there home was built with Chinese Drywall, a material made with sulfuric gases which can cause copper corrosion and potential health hazards.

Evidence of Chinese Drywall in Florida prompted a federal investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency.

"The tell tale signs that we are seeing initially are HVAC problems, repeated replacement of coils on relatively new homes," said attorney Steve Mullins. "Additionally, the failing or the blackening of copper pipes, electronics like refrigerators that are failing at an extraordinary rate within a couple years of construction should also raise a red flag."

In a class action suit, Mullins is representing the Whitfields and several other clients who may be affected by Chinese Drywall.

The Whitfields say their health is also being affected by the problem. They say since moving in the home, they have developed a cough, their two-year-old daughter has constant respiratory problems and their newborn was placed on a breathing machine just a few months after coming home from the hospital.

"Because we are so new in this, we don't know what it's going to take to fix the problem," said Whitfield.

Whitfield says until the investigation is completed, anyone who had their home built after 2004 should check attics or other open spaces to see who manufactured their drywall.

He says as long as it doesn't read made in China or suggests manufacturing by the Knauf Group, your home should be safe.

At least two class action lawsuits have been filed against foreign drywall manufacturers, including the Knauf Group of Germany, which manufactured drywall from China during the housing boom.

Knauf denied responsibility, claiming its toxicologists could find no link between copper corrosion and health problems in homes.

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