The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that complaints involving problems with Chinese drywall have been received from 21 different states and Washington D.C. The defective drywall is also now being investigated as a possible fire hazard, due to its corrosive effects on wiring and household appliances.
The CPSC sent a letter to several U.S. Senators on July 7 with a status report about the Chinese drywall issues that have plagued homeowners throughout the United States. The report disclosed that material from the drywall likely comes from the ShanDong province in China, and CPSC officials are in the process of getting approval from the Chinese government to conduct a fact-finding tour of those mines.
At least 608 incident reports problems with the drywall from China have been received by the CPSC, with the majority of reports coming from Florida, Louisiana and Virginia. The walls in the buildings, a recently filed class-action lawsuit alleges, were built with the same kind of Chinese-made drywall that tests have shown emit sulfur gases that corrode copper coils and electrical and plumbing components.
Could you have Chinese drywall?
The drywall was used primarily in multi-family dwellings and single family homes from 2004 thru 2006 because there was a high demand for building materials at the time after severe hurricane damage to the Gulf South and it was available and cost-effective.
Does your home have a strong smell (a sulfur or rotten egg-type smell)?
Do you have corroded copper coils in your air conditioner or are the coils black?
Do you have KNAUF written on the back of your drywall? Go to your attic and look at the back side of the drywall for Knauf. This is the primary manufacturer's ID, which could identify it as the drywall in question.
Respiratory Effects from Gaseous SO2 - Peak levels of SO2 in the air can cause temporary breathing difficulty for people with asthma who are active outdoors. Longer-term exposures to high levels of SO2 gas and particles cause respiratory illness and aggravate existing heart disease.
Respiratory Effects from Sulfate Particles - SO2 reacts with other chemicals in the air to form tiny sulfate particles. When these are breathed, they gather in the lungs and are associated with increased respiratory symptoms and disease, difficulty in breathing, and premature death.
Short-term Peak Levels
High levels of SO2emitted over a short period, such as a day, can be particularly problematic for people with asthma. EPA encourages communities to learn about the types of industries in their communities and to work with local industrial facilities to address pollution control equipment failures or process upsets that could result in peak levels of SO2.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Please consider the following answers are based on the best available information and are subject to periodical review and revision as Department of Health (DOH) continues to research the issues. Please check back often to review additional questions/answers and revisions.
Does this phenomenon pose a health hazard to me, my children, or pets?
This is undetermined at this time. DOH has not identified data suggesting an imminent or chronic health hazard at this time. DOH will continue to review all available data to help determine a more definitive answer to this question.
Will the Health Department sample and test my home for corrosive gasses or for the presence of Chinese drywall?
At this time DOH does not have the necessary resources to visit homes and collect air or material samples for analysis. DOH visited 12 homes in late January of 2009 and collected representative samples of drywall during the visits. Samples are currently being analyzed for content. The laboratory analysis should be transmitted to DOH in March of 2009.
How do I know if I have "Chinese drywall"?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. The most definitive method to date is finding a "made in China" marking on the back of sheet of drywall. DOH observed some drywall in several homes with no discernable markings. The origin of the unmarked drywall is unknown. DOH observed that homes with marked Chinese drywall also contained drywall marked as made in USA. Remember that we do not know how many sheets of the suspect drywall can cause problems. DOH did observe at least one home with marked Chinese drywall with none of the associated corrosion or odor problems. The bottom line is we think the question should really be "Does my house have corrosion problems?" (see case definition).
Who can help evaluate my home for this issue?
Environmental consultants, drywall contractors, your builder, electrical engineers, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning engineers, industrial hygienists, building scientists to name a few. Be advised that each group will bring with them their own specialized expertise and experience.
Who can repair, remediate or fix my home?
There are no set criteria for persons performing a remediation of problematic drywall or affected building materials. DOH advises the public to hire Florida licensed contractor(s) to perform the remediation. For example: use a licensed electrician to replace corroded electrical systems, or use an AC contractor to replace or repair an air conditioner, or use a drywall contractor to install drywall, or a licensed general contractor to oversee the demolition and coordination of subcontractors.
Is there a known treatment to deal with suspect drywall emissions?. Do the corrosive gasses absorb and re-emit from other surfaces or materials?
DOH is not currently aware of any proven and effective treatment method other than removal and replacement of the suspected or known source material. Claims of treatment involving ozone, coatings, and air cleaners should be scrutinized for evidence of proven effectiveness. DOH recommends against the use of ozone generators in occupied spaces, since ozone is a highly reactive and irritating molecule and is considered hazardous to people and pets. See US Environmental Protection Agency report "
At this time, we do not believe that this is the case. The suspect gas emissions are likely to react quickly upon contact with susceptible surfaces and materials. Re-emission seems unlikely to occur.