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Family: Drywall caused illness




MITCHELL, S.D.

When Brandon and Renae Gades moved into their house near Mitchell in 2008, they assumed the new drywall they installed would be trouble-free.

But Renae said it didn’t take long for the drywall to begin emitting sulfur gas that corroded wiring and appliances and caused health problems for her entire family.

“In the time you were there, you didn’t realize,” Gades said. “In reality, everyone in the home was basically sick the entire time.”

Gades said she is close to suing United States Gypsum, which she identified as the maker of the drywall.

The situation came to a head when Gades’ toddler had a seizure in April last year. That incident, which she believes was related to the drywall, caused the family to move out of the home and pursue litigation.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has received more than 3,000 reports of Chinese drywall causing health problems, and settlement negotiations are under way between at least one manufacturer and litigants.

The Chinese drywall is reported to emit a sulfuric gas that causes a rotten-egg odor, health problems and the corrosion of copper pipes and wiring.

Gades said the drywall in her home was made in the United States. Nevertheless, she said the problems are similar to the Chinese drywall and she thinks it’s time for the manufacturer to compensate her family.

“What we want to see is basically enough so we have a place to live,” Gades said.

Last November, the Gades family was included in a CBS News report on drywall problems.

“… CBS News found a number of families that had to abandon homes built, they claim, with Americanmade drywall,” the report said. “There were cases in Florida, in Georgia and in South Dakota, where Brandon Gades says his electrical wiring went haywire and his wife was overcome by fumes.”

Robert Williams, director of corporate communications for United States Gypsum, said the company’s drywall is safe, although he admitted that USG did briefly import drywall from Knauff Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co. Ltd, a Chinese wallboard manufacturer currently involved in litigation.

Williams said the temporarily imported drywall was enough for 300 homes and all of it was sold in Florida, where a majority of the complaints fielded by the Consumer Product Safety Commission came from.

Therefore, he doesn’t believe that USG will be found at fault if the Gades’ case proceeds.

“We’ve been making wallboard for almost 100 years and have never, ever had problems similar to these Chinese drywall problems,” Williams said. “We have nothing to do with this.”

Gades said she’s frustrated with the situation and believes someone should be held accountable. The family is still paying mortgage payments on the house despite having to relocate, she said, and they make visitors to the house wear a respirator.

“I won’t walk in the house,” Gades said. “It’s been very difficult.”


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