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Chinese Drywall

Contaminated Chinese Drywall

Source: Orlando Weekly

The use of Chinese-manufactured drywall in the construction of residential and commercial properties is a growing problem, especially across the Southeastern United States.

 

Regardless of its source, contamination of some sort is damaging property and health in the southern U.S. Homes affected by this contamination can suffer serious damage to the metal parts of appliances and piping and lead, potentially leading to considerable health issues.

Inspection Chinese Drywall

Between 2001 and 2007, especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when domestic building materials were in short supply, an estimated 250,000 tons of drywall were imported from China. This cheap and plentiful material was used in the construction of approximately 100,000 homes in the United States. It is believed this has led to serious health and property damage. Many incidents have been reported in Florida and other Southern states, likely due to the high levels of heat and humidity in that region.

According to International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), the "Chinese companies use unrefined "fly ash", a coal residue found in smokestacks in coal-fired power plants in their manufacturing process. Fly ash contains strontium sulfide, a toxic substance commonly found in fireworks. In hot and wet environments, this substance can off-gas into hydrogen sulfide, carbon disulfide, and carbonyl sulfide and contaminate a home’s air supply."

How to identify a contaminated drywall

There are currently no government or industry standards for inspecting contaminated drywall in homes, and there are no agencies that offer certification in this type of inspection. However, InterNACHI, has put together the following tips to help identify if a home’s drywall is contaminated:

  • The house has a strong sulfur smell reminiscent of rotten eggs.
  • Exposed copper wiring appears dark and corroded. Silver jewelry and silverware can become similarly corroded and discolored after several months of exposure.
  • A manufacturer’s label on the back of the drywall can be used to link it with manufacturers that are known to have used contaminated materials. One way to look for this is to enter the attic and remove some of the insulation.
  • Drywall samples can be sent to a lab to be tested for dangerous levels of sulfur. This is the best testing method but also the most expensive.

Remember:

Contaminated Chinese drywall cannot be repaired. Affected homeowners are being forced to either suffer bad health and failing appliances due to wire corrosion or replace the drywall entirely, a procedure which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

This contamination further reduces home values in a real estate environment already plagued by crisis.

Some insurance companies are refusing to pay for drywall replacement and many of their clients are facing financial ruin.

Exposure to high levels of airborne hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur compounds from contaminated drywall can result in:

  • sore throat;
  • sinus irritation;
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • headache
  • dry or burning eyes; and/or
  • respiratory infections.

There is currently no scientific proof that Chinese drywall is responsible for the allegations against it. The Chinese samples recently tested by The Florida Department of Health contained traces of strontium sulfide and emitted a sulfur odor when exposed to moisture and intense heat, while the American sample did not. Both U.S. Consumer Safety Commission and Lennar found safe levels of sulfur compounds in the samples that they tested.

Conclusion:

Until the governing bodies will issue some regulations regarding contaminated drywall, as a home inspector I am aware of the danger it poses and I have learned how to identify it. I will provide you the most accurate and objective inspection information because I want to increase your confidence and peace of mind about your home. I would love to give you a free estimate or answer your questions.

Please call me now at 954-616-9475 or email me at liviu@accubuiltinspection.com.

Resources: http://www.nachi.org/chinese-drywall.htm

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