Knauf Drywall Fiasco “Biggest Home Defect Case in US History”


Knauf drywall, a German brand of drywall manufactured in China, could be releasing toxic gases in tens of thousands of US homes built between 2004-2007. ABC reports:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating whether (Knauf) drywall…may be emitting toxic gases. Most materials used to build or remodel homes are made in the United States, but the building boom and Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma caused building material shortages. That’s when some builders started buying up Chinese-made drywall. Knauf brand drywall is now at the center of several lawsuits alleging that it emits gases that harm household systems and may be dangerous to your health.

Attorney Jeremy Alters has filed one of at least three class-action lawsuits.

“This is massive. This will probably be the largest home defect case in American history,” Alters said. Plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate enough Chinese drywall entered U.S. ports during the housing boom of 2004 to 2006 to build at least 50,000 homes.

Florida residents discovered the sulfur problem first because high humidity forced the gas from the walls. As many as 40 other states may be affected as well, including Arizona, California, Alabama, Nevada and Louisiana.

“I think ultimately you will be talking about tens of thousands of homes that will have to be completely redone or demolished,” Alters said.

The article says that black soot on the wires behind your light switch plates, in the coils of your air-conditioning unit, and on the plugs of your washer/dryer could indicate a problem.

The media is putting a China-bashing slant on this piece of news. While it’s true that China has a tendency to produce inferior or toxic products, the Knauf drywall case illustrates a much bigger issue. A western (German) manufacturer has toxic drywall made in China, but avoids taking responsibility for the quality of the product. Money-hungry American builders buy the stuff in bulk and create instant suburbs, but don’t claim responsibility for QAing the materials they buy. Home-hungry Americans flock into reasonably-priced homes without a second thought regarding the safety and integrity of the structures.

This isn’t a China issue, it’s an everyone issue. This is what happens when manufacturers and builders rush their processes in order to squeeze out maximal profits. Once again, we’re paying retroactively for a communal lack of foresight.

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  • It’s scary really that any company could allow such a thing to happen with such a common building component. I can’t help but wonder if anything else has been effected with drywall (Other chemicals are made with drywall components.)

  • dejan jovanovic

    I work with Knauf component 10 years in Serbia.I just can imagine what kind of components we can buy in our stores.The bigger problem in my country and all Eastern Europe is in the fact that we can’t to apeal because we don’t have who to apeal.

  • MIKE Bergen

    The raw material was the recycled “waste” from coal fired power plants. This is the kind of thing that our government encourages and then when there are unintended consequences that same gov’t goes after those terrible, large corporations who were doing what the gov’t encouraged them to do.
    Who says “no good deed goes unpunished”
    Isn’t it interesting when those ex Goldman Sacks people killed Lehmann Bros that the financial markets froze? A couple of months later, when they modified the Mark to Market rules to performance it would have saved Lehmann and the freeze may not have been as severe. The gov’t that says they will fix it are very much responible for it being broken. Plenty of blame to go around.
    PS I wonder how much of theis drywall problem would go away irf the house designs wouldn’t allow moisture to get into the stud space to begin with.
    Only time will tell and when the real reason comes out, noone will care

  • Tim

    I read this article and disagree strongly. I have experience with the CDW incident and I can tell you for a fact “Home-hungry Americans flock into reasonably-priced homes without a second thought regarding the safety and integrity of the structures.” is quite a short-sighted view of what is happening. If anyone thinks blaming the home buyer for this problem is a legitimate part of placing blame, then you’re just as short-sighted as the author of this unintelligent article.

  • Chris

    I’m with Tim. As a real estate appraiser and a contractor I am thoroghly familiar with the issue, yet I have it in my own house. When my property was built no builder or homeowner had any reason to believe that there was anything wrong with this product. It was not purchased at a discount and Knauf has been around for years making a wide array of construction products. Homeowners have no blame in this whatsoever. The writer of this article is ignorant of the facts.