Armin and Lisa Seifart purchased drywall for their Coconut Grove home at Banner Supply. It was Chinese drywall — a product that allegedly emitted toxic, corrosive and bad-smelling hydrogen sulfide gas that could damage appliances and sicken homeowners. Yesterday, the trial of Seifart v. Banner Supply — the “the country’s first jury trial on defective drywall” according to The Miami Herald — began in Miami.

Banner, a building supplies vendor from Miami, purchased the drywall from Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. in China. According to the Seifarts, Banner knew that it had supplied defective drywall to builders, but failed to disclose the problems.

Chinesedrywall.com, a website “dedicated to educating the public about Chinese drywall,” writes, “There are 3,000 federal law suits filed against manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and builders [of Chinese drywall].” All of those are being heard by Judge Eldon Fallon, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, who will preside over discovery and pre-trial hearings.

As of May, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission had received almost 3,300 complaints from residents of 37 states (over half of those complaints from Florida residents) who believe property damage and or health issues are related to Chinese drywall.

A lab study report published by the CPSC in April states that “certain Chinese drywall emits reactive hydrogen sulfide at rates much higher than other, non-Chinese drywall, and that hydrogen sulfide has a strong association to corrosion in homes with problem drywall.”

The CPSC report confirms “initial studies in the drywall investigation found a strong association between the presence of problem drywall and corrosion of metal in homes.”

Chinesedrywall.com found that Knauf imported at least 67 million pounds of drywall in 2006. Over 3 million pounds came into the U.S. through Port Canaveral, Fla.

The Florida Independent contacted the CPSC to ask about methods to test the safety of imported building materials; the agency did not respond.

[Pic via flickr.com/photos/44124427152@N01]

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