Fort Bragg Homes Investigated for Chinese Drywall Following Deaths of Children

Following the deaths of ten children, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is conducting tests at Fort Bragg, said WRAL. The agency is testing homes where infants have died to ascertain if defective drywall is the problem. CPSC is spearheading the nationwide probe into defective Chinese drywall cases.

In all, ten children have died at the military homes, one an eight-month-old baby and the other, two years old, said WRAL. The children all died since 2007 and two took place in the same home and during three months in 2009, added WRAL.

One baby’s cause of death was deemed Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; however, medical experts cannot confirm a cause of death in seven other deaths and two more are under investigation, said WRAL. Officials at Fort Bragg are being assisted by the Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology; the groups are looking at potential construction or environmental issues, said WRAL.

Since late 2008, the CPSC has received more than 3,500 reports from residents in 38 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico regarding defective Chinese drywall. Gases emitted from Chinese drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances.

The gases also produce a sulfurous odor that permeates homes, and cause metals, including air conditioning coils and even jewelry, to corrode. People living with Chinese drywall have suffered eye, respiratory, and sinus problems that may be linked to the gases. The CPSC says the only way to remediate defective Chinese drywall is to remove the wallboard and the electrical wiring and other components from affected homes.

This investigation has not yet turned up any commonalities in the children’s death, said Chris Gray, spokesman for the Criminal Investigative Command. Speaking about the deaths at Fort Bragg, CPSC spokesman Alex Filip said, “We’re very concerned about what’s going on down there … (Agency investigators) have been down in the area talking to the base quite a bit,” quoted WRAL.

Samples were just retrieved from the home where the two babies died, said Filip. That home is and will remain vacant until tests are completed, said WRAL. Another home where an infant death occurred in March was also tested, said WRAL. Test results are expected this fall, said Filip.

Both homes being tested were built by Picerne Military Housing after 2005, noted WRAL. According to Picerne manager, John Shea, preliminary tests conducted by the Army tested positive for Chinese drywall; however, two follow-up tests were negative, said WRAL. Shea blamed an old grading scale for the false positive. Army test results will be released after the investigation is complete. Gray noted that the deaths occurred across Fort Bragg in new and old construction, WRAL pointed out.

We’ve long noted that defective drywall was mostly brought into this country between 2004 and 2008 and recently wrote that even more companies than previously thought knew about tainted Chinese drywall as early as 2006, but kept quiet about its problems. According to a prior ProPublica report, these firms didn’t even make their knowledge public in 2008, when homeowners first began complaining about the smelly wallboard.

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