The 2009 Chinese drywall controversy is a health and safety issue involving defective drywall manufactured in China and imported by the United States starting in 2001. Laboratory tests of samples for volatile chemicals have identified emissions of the sulfurous gases carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and hydrogen sulfide. These emissions, which have the odor of rotten eggs, worsen as temperature and humidity rise and cause copper surfaces to turn black and powdery, a chemical process indicative of reaction with hydrogen sulfide. Copper pipes, wiring, and air conditioner coils are affected, as well as silver jewelry. Homeowners have reported a variety of symptoms, including respiratory problems such as asthma attacks, chronic coughing and difficulty breathing, as well as chronic headaches and sinus issues.
Due to this problem’s recent nature, there are currently no government or industry standards for inspecting contaminated drywall in homes. Professionals who have handled contaminated drywall in the past may know how to inspect for sulfur compounds but there are no agencies that offer certification in this form of inspection.
Some of the quick items to look for area: Was your home built or did you have new drywall installed between 2001-2008? Do you notice a certain smell or odor when first entering your home, especially when not running the A/C? Does this smell dissipate soon after you’ve been in the home? (It doesn’t always have a smell, especially in partially tainted homes). Have you had A/C problems? Have you replaced your evaporator coils? Have you noticed your faucets corroding or do they have black spots that are hard to remove? Have you noticed blackened copper on refrigeration lines, wiring, plumbing or gas lines?
In August, a preliminary settlement with Banner Supply in the amount
of $55 million was announced. This settlement , if approved, would
apply to all homeowners whose drywall was supplied by Banner
regardless of the brand of drywall in their home. This is very
significant news as this is the first settlement that includes
homeowners with Taishan drywall.
Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control recently announced they found no link between the deaths of eleven people and homes with Chinese drywall. Click here for a link to that report and others filed with the Consumer Produce Safety Commission. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is urging the CDC to do comprehensive study into the long term health effects from prolonged exposure to sulfur. But there’s one lesson our scientist said we should take away from this experiment. “It keeps going on. It keeps accumulating so unless you take it out you’re still going to have that reaction happening in your house,” said Hejzlar.
That’s why the Consumer Product Safety commission is recommending anyone who finds out they have this product in their home–remove it.
Besides the horrible odor, Sulfur corrodes copper and is often evident by the copper blackening and flaking off. This drastically reduces the functional life expectancy of any copper building material, such as evaporator coils and tubing, which can ultimately cause an air conditioner to fail. Chinese drywall may also corrode copper plumbing, copper electrical wiring, and copper water lines. Metals such as chrome, brass and silver may also be affected. In homes with Chinese drywall, bathroom and kitchen faucets and drains are typically tarnished.