State’s tainted drywall list grows

MANATEE — The list of complaints about tainted drywall filed with the Florida Department of Health from around the state has grown to nearly 100, but the latest report released Tuesday contained no new addresses from Manatee County.

Manatee County accounts for about one-third of the complaints on the state list. Altogether, homeowners in 15 other counties have reported concerns, ranging from Sarasota to Dade and Polk counties.

Residents in five Manatee neighborhoods have reported symptoms of the problem with the drywall, including GreyHawk Landing, Crystal Lakes, Fairways at Imperial Lakewoods, Heritage Harbour and Greenbrook in Lakewood. More could follow.

Builders in Manatee County, who have been mentioned in complaints include Lennar, WCI and Taylor Morrison. Other builders across the state who have been named by attorneys of homeowners include Meritage Homes, Ryland Homes, Transeastern and Standard Pacific.

To date, Lennar has been the most proactive builder, relocating residents until the repairs are made on their homes. Work continued Tuesday on several homes on Montauk Point Crossing in Heritage Harbour where families experienced problems with corroded metal devices and blackened copper wiring.

In addition to Florida, residents from about 25 states have reported problems with tainted drywall, according to a consumer advocacy group, America’s Watchdog.

The problem has garnered attention from federal agencies like the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency, which are both investigating the issue.

Nancy Nelson, a resident of Fairways at Imperial Lakewoods, is pleased that other agencies are taking notice.

“I’m glad to hear that the feds are involved,” she said. “I think we’re going to get better reactions.”

Nelson, who experienced problems with corroded air conditioning components, failed electronic devices, tarnished jewelry and blackened copper wiring and pipes, called upon Michael Foreman, a construction consultant in Sarasota.

Foreman, who conducted preliminary testing free of charge, said he has received many calls concerning the problem.

He has found that homes with defective drywall can show signs of drywall manufactured in two different places in China.

One type of drywall emits an ammonia or formaldehyde odor, which tends to rust galvanized metals, he said.

The other drywall, manufactured by Knauf Tianjin, smells of sulfur and reacts with copper components within the house.

What’s important to remember is that not all houses have the problem and if a home doesn’t show the signs within two or three years, it likely does not have defective drywall, he said.

Some homes, however, have as little as 10 percent of defective drywall, which tends to take longer for the symptoms to “intensify,” he said.

Jessica Klipa, Herald staff reporter, can be reached at 708-7906.