Published: Apr 08, 2010 11:08 PM EDT

NEW ORLEANS, La. - A New Orleans federal judge has awarded seven Virginia families $2.6 million in damages to pay for the removal of sulfur-emitting drywall made in China that has been linked to corrosion and possible health effects.

U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon ruled Thursday that all the Chinese-made drywall in their homes should be removed as well as any items damaged by corrosion due to the drywall.

Fallon's decision could affect thousands of other U.S. homeowners whose homes were made with the defective wallboard. In this case, the plaintiffs sued Chinese drywall manufacturer Taishan Gypsum Co., which hasn't responded to lawsuits.

Chinese-made drywall was imported in large quantities during the housing boom and after a string of Gulf Coast hurricanes.