According to a recent segment aired by the local Channel 9News broadcast in Denver, lawsuits have been filed against a Seattle-based company named Weyerhaeuser that has recently come under fire for using a formaldehyde-based resin in a formula to improve fire resistance in their product “TJI Joists with Flak Jacket Protection.”
This product was used in new home construction in the Denver area in homes built after December 1, 2016.
How can you tell if your home was affected?
Colorado attorney Mark Nelson, representing several of the homeowners affected by this home air issue explained that homes constructed with this product have unhealthy levels of formaldehyde leaking out of floor joists mostly in unfinished basements. According to Nelson, homeowners will notice, “A pungent smell that irritates the eyes, nose, and throat. It’s apparent to anyone who goes into one of those basements, particularly basements that are unfinished.”
Nelson filed a lawsuit on behalf of two families who said the smell and chemical made them sick. The builders may have initially attempted to conceal the indoor air threat posed by this product. “At least initially, they were told, it’s a new home smell. Don’t worry about it,” Nelson said.
Last month, new homeowner Alyse Smith told 9News that her new Aurora home was causing her problems every time she went down to her basement. “My eyes are already stinging and watering,” Smith said in July. “They sting really bad.”
Nelson said his clients not only got sick, but they are now homeless. “They’ve been displaced. They’re living with other family members or in hotels for an indefinite period of time.”
Another attorney, Frank Azar filed a federal class action suit on Friday believing this issue could impact hundreds of people. Weyerhaeuser said in a previous statement in July that about 2,200 homes were impacted nationwide.
Weyerhaeuser has since released another statement since the lawsuits have been filed:
“Our top priority is to take care of every homeowner and builder affected by this situation. We are working closely with builders to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and remediation is already scheduled, in progress, or complete in more than 1,000 homes. Affected homes are in various stages of construction and most are not yet occupied. For any displaced homeowners and buyers, we are arranging and covering the cost for temporary housing until remediation is complete. We deeply regret this situation and are working diligently to do the right thing for everyone who is affected.”
The company added:
“As a policy, the Company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.”
Nelson suggests homeowners not take any chances and that if their home was built after December 1 and they experience a strong smell along with sickness, to leave the home immediately.
He also recommended that if you are unsure whether your home may have been constructed using this product, it is always in you and your family’s best interest to have your home air tested by a professional. He believes the 2,200 homes Weyerhaeuser admitted to being affected is just the beginning of something big. “A lot of people who call us don’t even know about this issue and they’ve been in their home for months,” Nelson said.