Monday, March 23, 2009

American Home Owners Are "Soured" on Chinese Drywall

As a fellow who hung Sheetrock way back in high school (back in the days when you used hammers because nail guns hadn't been invented), I've always had a fondness for the stuff. But this CNN story was troubling on many more levels than just messing with my fading memories.

First, there's the agony these folks are going through. Second, it's another example of lousy quality control by the Communist Chinese. But third, and certainly the most far-reaching tragedy, it illustrates one of the key reasons the American economy is so weak and vulnerable; namely, our historic industrial strength is just that -- history!

Americans create less and less every year. Pressured by environmental laws, labor unions, confiscatory taxes, and bureaucratic red tape, American manufacturers are going under or going abroad. And American consumers, naively preferring momentary bargains for quality, have become dupes for the shoddiest of products...even when those products are made from slave labor and even when they're made by our nation's enemies. Sigh.

Anyhow, here's the story:

Officials are looking into claims that Chinese-made drywall installed in some Florida homes is emitting smelly, corrosive gases and ruining household systems such as air conditioners, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says.

The Florida Health Department, which is investigating whether the drywall poses any health risks, said it has received more than 140 homeowner complaints. And class-action lawsuits allege defective drywall has caused problems in at least three states -- Florida, Louisiana and Alabama -- while some attorneys involved claim such drywall may have been used in tens of thousands of U.S. homes.

Homeowners' lawsuits contend the drywall has caused them to suffer health problems such as headaches and sore throats and face huge repair expenses.

The drywall is alleged to have high levels of sulfur and, according to homeowners' complaints, the sulfur-based gases smell of rotten eggs and corrode piping and wiring, causing electronics and appliances to fail.

"It's economically devastating, and it's emotionally devastating," said Florida attorney Ervin A. Gonzalez, who filed one of the lawsuits. It would cost a third of an affected home's value to fix the dwelling, Gonzalez said.

"The interior has to be gutted, the homeowners have to continue paying mortgages, and they have to pay for a [temporary] place to live," Gonzalez said...