Placing a scientific and unbiased opinion on the issues relating to drywall imported from China, forensic experts have begun looking into the effects and problems involved with Chinese drywall. Along with the interesting fact that the crisis has already led to people taking advantage of panic (“One company is already cashing in and selling a Chinese drywall inspection kit,” says Derry. “It is made to test water samples for sulfur levels—to determine if water is drinkable. I talked to the manufacturer and he said it would not work on drywall”), details of how and why the drywall got into the country are discussed:
“Regardless of what people say about US building developers and contractors, for the most part they didn’t buy Chinese drywall to save money but ordered it simply for supply and demand,” says Doug Derry, field services manager, CBI Forensics. And there was a lot of demand after Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. “Shipping records show that since 2006, 550 million pounds of drywall were imported from China into the US—enough for about 100,000 homes.”
Derry says forensics inspectors started to investigate allegedly toxic drywall in December 2008. Based on what they saw, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin LTD., which is a subsidiary of German-based Knauf, supplies upwards of 50 countries with drywall and insulation. America ran out of drywall during the building boom, so between 2004 and 2007 Chinese drywall was being used to build American homes. (On March 24, 2009 Florida’s Atttorney General launched a criminal investigation into Knauf and L&W Supply Corp, to investigate whether the companies committed any deceptive sales or marketing practices.)
“Interestingly, you can hear so much about building companies such as Lennar but more often than not, they trust their drywall contractor to supply, install and tape the houses,” explains Derry. “All they know is that they order their subcontractors to begin delivering the drywall in preparation for installation. Perhaps during this period of time this Chinese drywall was available quickly and in the sizes and thicknesses required for the job.”
The density of this issue continues to increase as fraudulent “investigators” have begun to pop up and the issue does not seem as open-shut for guilt as it did before.