Hazardous Chinese Drywall
Tainted Chinese Drywall Destroying your Home and Endangering your Family?
By Mark J. Donovan
Drywall imported from China
between 2001 and 2007 has been found to contain chemicals that appear to be
producing a health threat to humans and homes. Drywall imported from China
during this timeframe is commonly referred to as Hazardous Chinese drywall,
Tainted Chinese Drywall, and Contaminated Drywall. Chinese drywall was
imported into the U.S. during this period due to the housing boom, and
because of major hurricane damage that was sustained in the southern U.S. states in 2004 and 2005.
Unlike drywall imported from
Mexico and Canada, Hazardous Chinese drywall has been confirmed to contain
Sulfur, high concentrations of Strontium, and Phosphogypsum, a radioactive
Apparently these chemicals are
outgassing from the drywall, and when combined with carbon monoxide, are
producing unhealthy effects on both the home and its occupants. Outgases
produced from the Hazardous Chinese drywall are smelly and corrosive. The smell
is akin to rotten eggs, and the corrosive element attacks electrical and
mechanical equipment within the home, including air conditioning systems,
appliances, electronics, electrical wiring and copper plumbing.
In regards to the suspected health
threats to humans, the answer still appears to be inconclusive. According to the
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) they
have received nearly 2000 reports from residents in 30 states, Puerto Rico and
Washington DC claiming health symptoms and the corrosion of metal components
within their homes due to the use of Hazardous Chinese drywall. The reports
indicate that people are experiencing health symptoms including itchy skin and
eyes, persistent coughing, difficulty breathing, sinus infections, bloody and
runny noses, frequent headaches and asthma attacks.
They also report that these symptoms
abate when they leave their homes, and return when they go back to their homes.
The CPSC, however, has yet to confirm causality between the Hazardous Chinese
drywall and the symptoms described in these reports. They continue though to
investigate this issue, and look for a relationship between the two, and to
determine if there are any long term health effects.
How to Check for Hazardous Chinese
Drywall in your Home
Reports indicate that Hazardous
Chinese drywall was used in U.S. home construction between 2001 and 2007. Tell
tale signs and methods for determining whether or not you have Hazardous Chinese
drywall in your home include:
The smell of foul rotten eggs
within your home, particularly on hot, humid days.
The smell of ammonia.
Corrosion on electrical wiring and
copper plumbing fixtures (Look for blackened surfaces on wiring, but don’t
touch live electrical wires!)
Corrosion on Air Conditioning
Systems. Again, look for blackened surfaces.
Go up in your attic and look at the
back side of the drywall to see if it is labeled with “Knauf”, “Knauf
Plasterboard Tianjin (KPT), and/or “Made in China”. Note, just because you do
not see these markings on the ceiling drywall doesn’t mean you do not
necessarily have Hazardous Chinese Drywall in your home. It just means it was
not used on the ceiling.
Wherever possible check for labels
on the backside of the drywall in other places, for example in laundry rooms,
basements, and other places where the drywall was left unfinished.
What to Do if You Suspect
Hazardous Chinese Drywall in your Home
If you think your home has Hazardous
Chinese drywall in it, your best bet is to first contact an environmental
testing company and have it tested. If it indeed is Hazardous Chinese drywall,
then contact your builder and homeowner’s insurance company. The only proper
solution is to completely remove and replace the existing drywall. However do
not attempt to remove the drywall yourself. Instead contact an abatement company
who specializes in Hazardous Chinese drywall removal.
Once you have confirmed Hazardous
Chinese drywall in your home, there are number of steps you can take to mitigate
the negative effects of it until you have it removed.
Open doors and windows as often as
possible to dissipate the drywall out-gasses.
Maintain cooler temperatures in the
home by using the air conditioner and dehumidifier.
Limit your time in the home until
the drywall is removed.
For more information see the
Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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