Latest health hazard: Contaminated drywall from China

BRADENTON, Fla. _ In 2006, more than 495 million pounds of drywall was imported into the United States from China during the height of the building boom. The drywall was shipped to more than 15 U.S. cities, including New York, Houston, Los Angeles and New Orleans, according to a Bradenton Herald analysis of shipping data from the Port Import Export Reporting Service, or PIERS, the primary source of U.S. waterborne import-export trade.

Some of it appears to be contaminated, homeowners complain that it smells bad and corrodes copper pipes, and there have been a flurry of lawsuits, a round of finger-pointing and elevated interest in government offices in Tallahassee and Washington.

America’s Watchdog, a national advocacy group for consumer protection, has confirmed defective drywall in homes in Michigan, Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, North and South Carolina, New York and New Jersey, with more being investigated.

Martin estimates that 10,000 homes in Florida and more than 100,000 nationwide eventually will be affected. His teams are taking samples and testing air quality in homes across the nation.

At least a dozen companies manufactured defective drywall in China and about 100 builders in Florida used the product, dating back to 2004. The product is still on the market and being installed in homes, including some that are being remodeled, Martin said.

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