Something New To Worry About: Chinese Drywall

If your house smells like rotten eggs, don't blame the dog. It may be the Chinese drywall the house was built with a few years ago. 

America's Watchdog, which calls itself a national consumer-advocacy group, discovered numerous cases in Florida, Virginia, Maryland and the entire Gulf coast where toxic Chinese drywall was used in homes built from 2003-2008.

Tom Martin, who is a very, very zealous spokesman for the group, told Hair Balls more than 2,000 people have called to complain about the malodorous drywall and its harmful side effects. Generally, people can smell sulfur and begin to experience headaches, nosebleeds and upper respiratory problems. The toxins have also been known to poison the family pet, tarnish the silver and corrode the AC coils, he says.

Martin visited Houston and Austin a week ago and said he was astounded by the size of the problem. He found "sick houses" in the newly built subdivisions near Hobby Airport and suspects others in the Houston area were built with tainted materials.  

(Keep in mind, there are some who believe Martin's just trying to drum up business for lawyers.)

Martin attributes builders' negligence and undocumented workers' ability to read the labeling, which doesn't seem relevant since the material wasn't any good for use at all. He says Texas is "an anything goes, everything goes state." 

There's a whole ranking system Martin claims to use. After the houses are dissected by "forensic pros," they are classified into one of three categories, mild, medium and severe. 

In mild cases the smell is virtually nonexistent, which means you will peacefully die in your sleep after years of inhaling undetected sulfur. In medium cases it "kinda, sorta smells," which means you will probably survive but may suffer from ailments that help you and thousands of others win a class action lawsuit. In severe cases there's a strong rotten-egg odor that beckons you and your family to get out now!

"This is a heartbreaking thing. People really don't know what to do," Martin said. "Some people are moving in with parents and relatives and continue to pay their mortgages...others are turning their keys into the bank."

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