Chinese drywall impacts on human health being measured in SCC
By MELODY JAMESON
SUN CITY CENTER – A survey of human health issues related to Chinese drywall exposures - the first of its kind in the nation – now is underway here.
Initiated by the Greater Sun City Center Contaminated Drywall Coordinating Group (CDCG), the survey is being conducted under the auspices of Dr. Kaye H. Kilburn, former professor of medicine at the University of Southern California and acknowledged world expect on the toxic effects of hydrogen sulfide, said Woody Nelson, CDCG founder and president.
Hydrogen sulfide is a key ingredient used in China in the generally unregulated manufacture there of drywall, a interior construction product heavily imported during the U.S. building boom in the middle years of this decade and built into many new homes throughout the southeast U.S., including about 80 single and multi-family dwellings in both Sun City Center and Kings Point.
It is the hydrogen sulfide content that is the most likely culprit in the corrosive destruction of appliance wiring and central air conditioning system coils, in tarnishing valuable metals such as jewelry, in creating a pervasive, offensive odor throughout a structure – and in adversely affecting human health. Residents living in homes contaminated with the Chinese dryw all have testified under oath in the mounting number of lawsuits and anecdotally about headaches, breathing problems, memory loss, fatigue and similar symptoms of toxic exposures after moving into their new homes.
However, heretofore there has not been a scientifically established baseline or database of collected information that could be relied upon in assessing human health reactions to the contaminating drywall, Nelson said. The Kilburn-CDCG survey is the first step in changing that circumstance, he added, noting that neither federal nor Florida health officials have taken any interest in developing specific information on human health as it relates to the drywall exposure.
The survey begins with an easily-completed questionnaire that seeks information on such topics as smoking habits, known allergies, symptoms manifested since the first exposure, frequency of symptoms, recall or memory issues experienced, etc. The 10-page form presenting possible answers in “bubble format” requires only a No. 2 pencil to fill in the appropriate bubble circles.
The questionnaire is being made available to anyone 50 years of age or older who has been or is living in a Chinese drywall dwelling and this includes individuals outside Sun City Center or even in surrounding counties, Nelson said.
A health survey meeting in the retirement community is being planned for Thursday, August 5, in the Florida Room of the Atrium on the central campus. At this time, drywall victims will be able to obtain and complete the Q&A form, as well as get any help needed from CDCG volunteers, Nelson added. Those taking part can come in anytime between the hours of 5 to 8 PM. Questionnaire completion requires about 20 minutes, he said.
Anyone wishing to obtain the questionnaire before the meeting is asked to send an email making the request to firstname.lastname@example.org. And, anyone returning a single, completed form to Dr. Kilburn should obtain the specified instructions for doing so, Nelson cautioned.
Dr. Kilburn’s customary fee for conducting such surveys and creating reliable databases for health evaluation purposes from the resulting raw information is well up in the five figure bracket, Nelson said. However, he has waived his fee in this instance, he added. On the other hand, there are packaging and mailing expenses involved in getting the completed forms to the California-based toxic exposure specialist in a manner he specifically detailed. To help defray this expense, each individual completing the form is asked to provide $10.
Nelson said he hopes to have all information pertinent to the health survey gathered and enroute to Dr. Kilburn by mid-August. With this timetable, the results of the sampling probably would be available in early September, he added.
“The aggregate results should tell us a couple of things,” he noted. “We should know more about how severely hydrogen sulfide from contaminating drywall impacts human health, compared with the unimpacted healthy, general population, and compared with populations which have been exposed through other circumstances. Is drywall exposure a greater risk,? A lesser risk? Right now, we really don’t know.” As examples of other exposed populations, Nelson pointed to people living near an open landfill or a commercial hog farm where feces is collected in an open central location. Both emit hydrogen sulfides, he said, and both affected populations have been surveyed by Dr. Kilburn.
The baseline established with this first sampling certainly should be helpful in assessing any increases or declines brought out by future health surveys, Nelson pointed out, and the aggregate effects and indicated trends evidenced by the database also could become useful in legal actions to recover damages.
In addition, while each completed survey is held in strict confidence, basic individual identifying information is included so that individuals will be able to access their personal health data in connection with drywall exposure from the database at any time in the future, Nelson said.
The courts are working on monetary compensation and property remediation for victimized homeowners, Nelson summed up, “now it’s high time we examine human remediation.”
Copyright 2010 Melody Jameson