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CHINESE DRYWALL

WHAT IS CHINESE DRYWALL?

In short, the term Chinese Drywall refers to tainted drywall imported from China which

corrodes copper and metal surfaces, often gives off a foul odor, and can make you

sick. Not all drywall manufactured in China is problematic. Further, a small portion of

defective drywall bears the name of a U.S. Company. It is unknown whether such

drywall was actually manufactured in the U.S. or was made in China and

re-branded here. Another possibility is that the U.S. drywall is fine, however, it was

cross contaminated by Chinese drywall. As such, labeling alone is not a definitive.

The majority of Chinese drywall is 1/2", but not always.

 

WHAT IS THE SOURCE?

While the material source of the problem is known, the cause of the problem is

unknown. Initially, the most common theory was that the tainted drywall was

manufactured in gypsum mines in China which used fly ash, a waste material

that is a byproduct from power plants using coal. Samples of Chinese drywall tested

by United engineering , however, consisted of 5 -15% organic material, which

contradicts the theory that Chinese drywall was made of waste

from coal fired power plants. It is now believed that the tainted drywall from

China comes from mined gypsum, not synthetic gypsum which is made from

coal ash.  Mined gypsum contains high levels of strontium, which is visible as

inclusions in electron scanning micros copy. Another theory is that

Chinese drywall contains bacteria which is degrading iron and sulfur compounds

to produce sulfur odors.

Drywall imported from China was kept on barges at sea formonths awaiting

permission to enter the United States. While at sea, the drywall was exposed

to seawater. In fact, there are reports that the drywall was wet (and stunk)

when unloadedfrom the ships. According to many experts, however, if bacteria is

in fact present, it is not significant enough to cause an odor. Most recently,

some believe that Chinese drywall contains radioactive material, however,

state and federal tests so far have not dtected it.

IS THE DRYWALL DANGEROUS?According to Dr. Patricia Williams, a University

of New Orleans toxicologist, there is no question - highly toxic compounds have

been found in Chinese drywall and prolonged exposure to these comounds

can cause serious problems. Strontium sulfide may be dangerous to developing

children; it affects bone growth. Chronic exposure to these gases may affect the

central nervous system (including visual and sensory changes),

cardiovascular system, eyes, kidneys, liver and skin. Infants, children, the elderly

and infirm (particularly those with heart and lung disease and diabetes)

may have an increased vulnerability to these gases and the particulates that are

released from the drywall. The particulates from Chinese drywall may invade and

adhere to other building materials in the home's structure and personal objects

within the home. Translation, cross contamination is a real concern and should

be factored in to any remediation protocol. Nonetheless, the Department of Health

continues to maintain that the levels found in Chinese drywall are not high enough

to present "an imminent or chronic health hazard aat this time." It is not clear

if this finding takes into consideration long-term exposure and the combined

exposure to multiple compounds.

COULD CHINESE DRYWALL BE IN MY HOME?

Does your home smell like rotten eggs or ammonia (sometimes a sweetish smell?)

Is it more noticeable when entering your home and then seems to dissipate? T

he level of odor varies greatly in each home as does each persons's ability to

detect the odor. Of course, the strengt of the odor also depends on how much

drywall was used in the home. Significantly, some homeowners report no smell,

but their home clearly has Chinese drywall. In short, do not rely on your nose alone,

particularly since many develop olfactory fatigue after being exposed to 

Chinese drywall.  Chinese drywall corrodes electrical wiring. Check the electrical

receptacles in your walls to see if the wires are blackened.

Pull off the electrical plate and look inside. Obviously, do not touch

anything, you could get shocked. There should be copper wire inside. The breaker

panel should also be checked.

Hundreds of millions of sheets of Chinese drywall were imported from

2004 to 2006, but Chinese drywall has recently been found in home built or

remodeled as early as 2001. Accordingly, this phenomenon cannot be explained

solely by the shortage of American manufactured drywall.

The presence of Chinese drywall has been reported in 27 states and the

District of Columbia and is extimated to have been installed in over 100,000

homes in the United States. Unfortunately, this does not paint an accurate count

(example).In short, humidity and heat cause the sulfur in the tainted drywall to off

gas (i.e., migrate into the indoor air). Which not only creates a noxious odor, but

corrodes copper and other metals. Chinese drywall is also friable, which means

it is in a state where small patricles can easily become

dislodges with very little friction, thus enabling them to easily enter in to our lungs.

For this reason, even after Chinese drywall is removed from your home,

the toxic particulate will likely remain unless properly removed. Too date,

however, there is not State or Federal Government

mandated remediation protocol and, therefore, exercise extreme caution!!


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