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Did Chinese Drywall Kill Virginia Man?

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James City, VAWhat should have been a joyous time for an extended family in Virginia turned into a nightmare after an elderly man died from exposure to defective Chinese drywall. Donald Tierney, 82, died of respiratory desease, yet prior to moving to the Braemar Creek condominiums in James City, he was in good health and never smoked a day in his life.

The 8/6/10 issue of the Newport News Daily Press recounts the story of Jeff and Susann Tierney, a Connecticut couple who dreamed of retiring to the Williamsburg area, but did not wish to leave their aging parents behind. Jeff's father Donald was still alive, as were Susann's parents, Janet and Paul Jones.

So they all moved. The Tierneys purchased a single family home for themselves and found separate condominiums for Donald and the Joneses just two doors down from each other and right next to a golf course.

Donald had been in his condo for about a year when his health suddenly and without warning took a turn for the worse. He began having problems with his central nervous system. Sometimes he could not move his legs. He also began to wheeze, despite the fact he never smoked and did not suffer from respiratory problems of any kind prior to moving into the condo.

In July 2008 Jeff was visiting his father when Donald was suddenly unable to breathe. "He was in real distress, really grasping, pulling for air," said Tierney, a former assistant fire chief.

Donald died a few days later in hospital.

His death remained a mystery until January this year, when the Tierneys discovered that Donald's condominium had been built with defective Chinese drywall. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the drywall releases hydrogen sulfide and other gases that cause wire to corrode and copper air conditioning coils to turn /black.

The Daily Press has previously interviewed several people who complained of breathing problems related to Chinese drywall problems.

Dr. Dwight Flammia, a public health toxicologist with the Virginia Department of Health, said it's possible that a link will be eventually discovered between the China drywall and health problems—but that right now it's too early to tell.

For their part, the Tierneys have sent Donald's medical records to the CPSC for research purposes.

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