Friday, April 29, 2011

The Chinese Drywall Problem

During the housing boom, drywall, which is gypsum pressed between paper and used in walls and ceilings, was imported from China to fill a domestic shortage. A growing number of homeowners — there have been more than 3,810 reports in 42 states and other areas — complain that it generates sulfurous odors and corrosion that tarnishes metals and causes appliances such as air conditioners to fail. The government recommends consumers remove any possibly faulty drywall. Although no study has yet linked the drywall to specific health problems, homeowners have complained of respiratory issues and headaches. A 2010 report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission identified several brands of Chinese-made “problem drywall” and said that some Chinese-made samples emitted hydrogen sulfide at a rate 100 times greater than non-Chinese drywall boards.

So far, Florida is ground zero. Up to 1,000 homes in the southern part of the state may be affected, says Jack Snider, president of American Management Resources Corp. (AMRC). Working for homeowners and builders, the environmental consulting firm has tested drywall for gases and checked homes for odors and corrosion. AMRC first began investigating odor complaints in 2004 and found drywall to be the cause. Because most drywall doesn't identify its origin, Snyder says, it took until 2006 before foreign-made drywall became the focus. Based on import records, he estimates that up to 60,000 U.S. homes may be affected, with about half in Florida.

This is not a new issue here in Florida. This issue started showing up around 2004 and it does not stop. This problem can continue to spread throughout the United States as more homes will become inspected for this problem. Are these drywalls from China a real problem for our health? The more I read about it, the more I come to believe that it is problem. I think that the behavior of this product can be affected by the local weather of each state, so the results of Florida may not be experienced in Montana. However, it warrants that this issue be seriously investigated. Chinese drywall is typically mixed in with untainted drywall, which is why people should not assume that their home is fine if they find U.S. drywall. Moreover, U.S. drywall may have been manufactured in China and rebranded.

As builders were looking for more ways to address the housing demand, increased material costs, and demand from shareholders for higher returns may have driven these companies to select products of questionable standards. Now the question I have is, where else were housing safety standards sacrificed?

Here are some Chinese Drywall facts that you may find interesting:

* 20 mil sq. ft. of Chinese drywall entered the U.S. since 2001
* More than 65,000 American homes could be affected
* Emits harmful sulfur gases
* Corrodes copper wiring
* Contaminates furnishings & fabrics
* Damages air conditioners and appliances
* The presence of Chinese drywall has been reported in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

1 comment:

  1. Who would have thought that Chinese drywall had so many problems like emitting sulfur gas. I've used it before and now feel horrible that I didn't know these things. I'll be more careful with the building supplies I use with my Toronto business from here on out.