B.C. family’s battle against Chinese drywallDec 2nd, 2010 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: news
Issues with Chinese drywall continue as one family in Belle Chasse struggles to deal with the potentially hazardous building material.
The Jackel family has been paying for both the note on the house they built in 2007 and the rent for their temporary living space with no financial assistance from their insurance agency.
“We lived in the house almost a full two years, and we had some of those real mild symptoms,” Jon Jackel said. “My wife had frequent headaches. My daughter had consistent eye problems. My other daughter had multiple bouts of upper respiratory infections. Right before we discovered (the drywall) we had a newborn who developed a slight cough.”
The family also had problems with appliances, air conditioners failing, light bulbs frequently burning out and fresh batteries being taken out of the package dead, Jackel said.
Finally, a neighbor suggested the culprit might be Chinese drywall.
“So I started pulling insulation off the ceiling and I found the sheetrock and it said ‘made in China’ right on it,” said Jackel.
The family moved out, and for the last year has been paying two mortgages and two sets of utility bills, hoping to have the problem corrected, but can’t afford to do it without government assistance, Jackel said.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser wrote a letter to the community in effort to call attention to the family’s situation, and garner support for them.
The parish president asked for donations to make the Jackel’s new construction purchases more affordable, a cost that Jackel estimated will be about $325,000.
“We need all new appliances, duct work, pipes, plumbing, everything has to be replaced to be certified as contamination free,” Jackel said. “Insurance companies are standing behind their pollution exclusion.”
Nungesser, alongside a group of nearly 30 volunteers, began gutting the family’s Spring Rose Drive residence on the morning of Nov. 20.
Many people in this region opted to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina with Chinese-made drywall, a popular substitute for American drywall, which was in short supply. About 5,000 homes had Chinese drywall installed in them, according to Jackel.
Unfortunately, chemical emissions from the Chinese drywall have been linked to an array of health problems – specifically related to breathing and the respiratory tract – in humans and pets. These emissions may also corrode and damage copper pipes and wiring.
The odor released by the Chinese drywall is often described as the smell of rotten eggs, and worsens in heat or humidity, two common conditions in Southeastern Louisiana.
“This was a turning point because we sat for a year with nothing happening,” Jackel said. “It’s only half the battle. We hope that things will start moving now. It’s a relief to have this part done.”