Avoid Chinese-Drywall Torture

Chinese drywall is causing more than just sickness, toxic smells and corroding pipes (like the ones in this photo). Now, some unlucky homeowners are getting stuck with canceled insurance policies and looming foreclosure.

According to the Associated Press, thousands of homeowners are turning to their insurance companies for help removing toxic Chinese drywall, but getting canceled policies in return, which puts them at risk for foreclosure.

Some reports estimate as many as 100,000 homes in more than 30 states may be infected with the material, which causes sickness and a noxious sulfur smell. Later this month, the Consumer Products Safety Commission plans to release its study about what in the drywall is causing the problem and what can be done to fix it.

In the meantime, Florida lawyer Allison Grant, whose discovered Chinese drywall in her new condominium, is looking for answers. She maintains the helpful ChineseDrywall.comsite with the latest news, photos (like this one of her corroded air-conditioner coils) and resources on the epidemic.

Want to know if your home or rental has unhealthy Chinese drywall? Here are more signs to look out for.

  • Was your rental built during the housing boom from 2004-2007 (including homes in New Orleans built after Hurricane Katrina)?
  • Are you having headaches, nosebleeds, difficulty breathing?
  • Does your house smell like sulfur (or rotten eggs) and it gets worse in hot humid weather?
  • Are the metals in your home turning black and pipes corroding? (The drywall emits sulfide gases that erode copper, brass and other metals in air conditioning units, appliances, televisions and electrical outlets.)
  • Do you live in Florida, Louisiana, Virginia or Mississippi (the states where most cases have been reported)? More than 1800 cases have been reported in 30 states, so don't rule yourself out if you're in another state.
If you answered yes to these questions and live in Louisiana, good news for you or your landlord: State officials plan to use $5 million in federal housing moneyto help homeowners replace tainted drywall. If you live in Florida, Senator Bill Nelson has been working to call attention to the problem and should be contacted. Nelson has reportedly asked President Obama to add the problem to his agenda when he travels to China next month.

via NPR, The New York Times, The Huffington Post
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