"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Latest Imported Poison From China: Drywall

From the AP:

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) - At the height of the U.S. housing boom, when building materials were in short supply, American construction companies used millions of pounds of Chinese-made drywall because it was abundant and cheap.

Now that decision is haunting hundreds of homeowners and apartment dwellers who are concerned that the wallboard gives off fumes that can corrode copper pipes, blacken jewelry and silverware, and possibly sicken people.

Shipping records reviewed by The Associated Press indicate that imports of potentially tainted Chinese building materials exceeded 500 million pounds during a four-year period of soaring home prices. The drywall may have been used in more than 100,000 homes, according to some estimates, including houses rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina.

"This is a traumatic problem of extraordinary proportions," said U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat who introduced a bill in the House calling for a temporary ban on the Chinese-made imports until more is known about their chemical makeup. Similar legislation has been proposed in the Senate.

The drywall apparently causes a chemical reaction that gives off a rotten-egg stench, which grows worse with heat and humidity.

Researchers do not know yet what causes the reaction, but possible culprits include fumigants sprayed on the drywall and material inside it. The Chinese drywall is also made with a coal byproduct called fly ash that is less refined than the form used by U.S. drywall makers.

Dozens of homeowners in the Southeast have sued builders, suppliers and manufacturers, claiming the very walls around them are emitting smelly sulfur compounds that are poisoning their families and rendering their homes uninhabitable.

"It's like your hopes and dreams are just gone," said Mary Ann Schultheis, who has suffered burning eyes, sinus headaches, and a general heaviness in her chest since moving into her brand-new, 4,000-square foot house in this tidy South Florida suburb a few years ago.

How do the Chinese train their population to have no regard for producing products that poison those who buy them? Could the thoroughness of the corruption start with the cutthroat culture of schooling based on test cheating? From the Guardian:

Eight parents and teachers have been jailed on state secret charges after using hi-tech communication devices to help pupils cheat in college entrance exams, Chinese media reported today.

The conspirators used scanners and wireless earpieces to transmit exam answers, indicating the lengths to which people go to ensure success in the make-or-break "gaokao", which determines the future of 10 million 18-year-olds each year.

Concern about cheating is such that papers are kept under armed guard, and last year their classification was upgraded from "secret" to "top secret".

But three separate scams operated in a single school in Zhejiang province. Those involved were sentenced to between six months and three years for illegally obtaining state secrets. It is not known whether any children were punished.

The Legal Daily newspaper said the parents began plotting in 2007 because their children's achievements were "not ideal". One group bribed a teacher to fax them the test paper and paid university students to provide answers, which were transmitted to the children through earpieces. The ruse was discovered when police detected "abnormal radio signals" near the school.

Another man had created an even more elaborate ‑ and expensive ‑ system. He bribed a student to send him the questions using a miniature scanner and hired nine teachers to answer them. He then sent their work back to his son and the other boy.

A teacher was also jailed for charging parents to deliver answers to students. The equipment he used failed on the day. . . .

1 comment:

  1. I think it is a little premature to put a number on this case. We have not yet agreed on the analytical testing. We have not even determined the remedial scope or protocols will be to clean this mess up. Good luck getting any money out of the Chinese companies. Then there are the insurance companies. Some of the contractors and distributors are not even covered for this so the insurance companies will say. We do not know what long term damage to the health or the property is going to be. Too many questions are still I unanswered.
    I have met with some of the top experts in the IAQA field and from around the country in the last month and as an environmental investigator and consultant for 15 years, I think we have a long road ahead of us. Beware of any guarantee solutions to fixing the problem i.e. fogs, foam, and sprays. We don't even know if this stuff has embedded itself into the wooden substrates in the wall. We have been getting calls from Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia Beach Virginia now there is evidence of possible fraud that may be able to be linked to either the manufacture or distributors.
    We would be interested in hearing from other people experiencing Chinese Sheetrock problems as every case seems to have different details and precursors. We are putting a team of experts together to tackle the long term effects and to opine on the scope and protocols to properly remediate the homes and all the effected personal property.
    Rick Hollister CEI, CMR, CLI
    Environmental Administrators, Inc
    Tallahassee, Fl.
    rhollister@environmentaladministrators.com

    ReplyDelete