Friday, July 03, 2009

AllerAir Battling Toxic Chinese Drywall

AllerAir Industries develops filters to combat gases that can threaten house occupants

By MIKE KING, The Gazette

A Montreal air purification firm has joined forces with Spiderman to battle what has become known as toxic Chinese drywall, which is ailing North American homeowners and damaging their residences.

AllerAir Industries Inc. is working with Spiderman Mulholland, a leading U.S. forensic expert on the effects of water intrusion on buildings and toxic mould, to find a solution to the harmful gases emitted from the construction product imported from China between 2001 and 2006.

"We developed a carbon filter unit specifically to reduce the hydrogen sulfide (that has been found to leach from the drywall)," AllerAir president Sam Teitelbaum said from the company's manufacturing plant in St. Laurent. "In a 24-hour test, there was an 85-per-cent reduction."

AllerAir was contacted a few months ago by Mulholland, whose Florida-based U.S. Building Consultants Inc. has a government-accredited testing facility that can determine toxic-drywall problems.

It was there a pair of AllerAir systems - a modified model of its industrial RSU carbon filter machine for large surfaces and the RAP-H2S for smaller residential areas- were successfully tested.

As a result of those findings, Mulholland has ordered 25 more units to test on affected homes in the Sunshine State.

His laboratory analysis of the drywall found 11 sulphur compounds and contaminants to which prolonged exposure may cause serious problems to the nervous system.

Some of the serious health conditions and illnesses attributed to those sulphide gases include shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, eye irritations and respiratory difficulties.

Often, occupants are forced to leave their homes.

"As of now, we have the only machines allowing people (experiencing problems from the Chinese drywall) to continue living in their homes," noted Henri Chero, sales, marketing and design consultant at AllerAir.

The systems are priced from $1,000 to $8,000, depending on the size of the unit.

While initial estimates are that more than 100,000 homes had Chinese drywall installed across the U.S. during the building boom that followed after hurricanes Wilma and Katrina depleted domestic drywall supplies, Chero said that number could easily triple.

The crisis some are calling the worst case of sick houses in U.S. history has hit 41 states and is starting to be felt in Canada.

Cases have been reported in the Lower Mainland of B.C., Calgary and Toronto.

In cases where there is high humidity, sulfuric acid is created, which can result in failure to home heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems as well as electrical appliances, copper coils turning black, corroded electrical wiring, tarnished silver jewellery or utensils and light bulbs burning out at a faster rate.

To date, several lawsuits have been filed against German drywall manufacturer Knauf KG, its Chinese plasterboard units and U.S. home builders.

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