Local News

Federal agency inspects Bragg homes for Chinese drywall

Posted September 13, 2010 4:46 p.m. EDT
Updated September 16, 2010 9:11 p.m. EDT

— The Consumer Products Safety Commission is conducting its own tests on Fort Bragg homes where infants have died to determine if faulty drywall could be responsible.

Ten children, ages 2 weeks to 8 months, have died in military housing on post since the beginning of 2007. Two of the deaths occurred in the same home in a three-month period last year.

One of the babies died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but medical experts haven't been able to determine the cause of death of seven others, officials said. The remaining two deaths remain under investigation.

The Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology are assisting Fort Bragg officials to determine if faulty construction or environmental factors played a role in any of the deaths.

The initial investigation revealed no common factors in the deaths, Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Criminal Investigative Command, said during a news conference two weeks ago.

The CPSC is the federal agency leading the investigation into complaints about Chinese drywall across the country.

Hurricane Katrina and a nationwide building boom led to a shortage of domestic drywall several years ago, prompting some builders to begin importing drywall from China. Many people later reported getting sick in homes with the imported drywall.

"We're very concerned about what's going on down there," CPSC spokesman Alex Filip said Monday about the infant deaths at Fort Bragg. "(Agency investigators) have been down in the area talking to the base quite a bit."

Investigators took samples last week from the home where the two infants died, Filip said. They also tested a home in the Linden Oaks subdivision where a baby died in March.

Filip said he expects results from the tests back this fall.

Both homes were built by Picerne Military Housing after 2005.

Picerne manager John Shea said during the Aug. 31 news conference that initial tests done by the Army were positive for Chinese drywall, but two rounds of follow-up tests were negative. He said an old grading scale was the reason for the initial false positive result.

Shea said he was "very confident" that Chinese drywall isn't in any Fort Bragg housing.

Army officials said they won't release the results of their testing until the military investigation into the deaths is complete.

Grey said the deaths occurred across the post, in both new and old construction, but he declined to identify the specific homes involved.

The home where the two infants died is vacant and will remain so until the military investigation is completed, officials said.