National Gypsum, a U.S. drywall manufacturer, is defending itself against claims that its wallboard has caused corrosion and other problems in homes similar to what has been blamed on Chinese drywall.
Last week, we reported that two Florida families had filed suit against National Gypsum over allegedly defective drywall. George and Brenda Brincku of Alva, and Lydia and Apolinar Garcia of Cape Coral, were listed as lead plaintiffs in the National Gypsum lawsuit. According to the Sarasota Herald Tribune, the Brinckuâ€™s say their home contains only domestic drywall, and 90 percent of it was made by National Gypsum. The family has experienced extensive corrosion to their home, and a Florida health official told the Herald Tribune that this past spring that the Brinckuâ€™s residence was one of the worst examples of an affected home he had seen. The complaint said tests conducted by the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) on drywall from the Brincku home supported the lawsuit’s claims.
The class action complaint against National Gypsum accuses the company of producing â€œdefective American-manufactured drywall in the United States, including Floridaâ€ that release sulfur gases tied to corrosion and â€œirritant effects.â€ The lawsuit seeks the cost of drywall removal, repair of the damaged components in the home, as well as economic losses, medical monitoring and other steps.
National Gypsum has come out swinging in defense of its drywall. The company asserts that it did not, in fact, manufacture the drywall tested by MIT, and points out that a second brand of drywall was also used in the Brincku home. National Gypsum also claims a separate test conducted by Packer Engineering, an international firm hired by National Gypsum, found that the problems were not caused by National Gypsum or other domestically-produced wallboard in the Brincku home.
But the Brincku’s don’t agree, insisting that their home does not contain any drywall from China. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) report on the Brincku home, 92 percent of the wallboard was made by National Gypsum and 8 percent was made by Chicagoâ€™s USG Corp. They also stand by their claim that the wallboard tested by MIT – which came from the upper floor of their home – was made by National Gypsum. According to the Brincku’s, the drywall tested by Packer Engineering came from their home’s downstairs, and was in fact, manufactured by USG Corp.
Gases emitted from Chinese drywall have been blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. These 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 also suffered eye, respiratory and sinus problems that may be linked to the gases.
Last summer, tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency found that Chinese-manufactured drywall contained elevated levels of strontium sulfide, as well as the presence of several organic compounds associated with the production of acrylic paint that were not present in samples of U.S.-made drywall. Other tests released in November by the CPSC of 51 homes confirmed that the presence of hydrogen sulfide is the essential component that causes copper and silver sulfide corrosion found in Chinese drywall homes. Federal investigators are still trying to determine what health risks exposure to drywall gases might pose.
Currently, more than 3,000 lawsuits over Chinese drywall are pending in a multidistrict litigation underway in federal court in Louisiana.