Chinese Drywall Problems

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Odors and copper corrosion problems have been reported by homeowners throughout the United States suggesting the cause is from imported Chinese drywall.

The odor problems are typically caused by emissions of various sulfur containing compounds. The emissions, which are described as smelling like a burnt match or rotten eggs, worsen as humidity and temperature rises. Some homeowners reported health effects associated with the sulfurous gases, such as respiratory problems.

Homes containing the defective drywall also have reported problems with copper corrosion. Pipes, wires, and air conditioner coils may turn black and powdery, a chemical process indicative of reaction with hydrogen sulfide.

Drywall is a common building material typically made of a layer of gypsum-based plaster pressed between two thick sheets of paper, then dried in a kiln. Foreign drywall was imported by the United States during the construction boom between 2004 and 2007. Importation was further spurred by a shortage of American-made drywall due to the rebuilding demand of nine hurricanes that hit Florida from 2004 to 2005, and widespread damage caused along the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. An analysis covering drywall imports since January 2006 showed that more than 550 million pounds of Chinese drywall was brought into the United States since then, enough to build 60,000 average-sized homes.

 

References:

1. Drywall investigation expands into US products, Nov. 25, 2009, AP, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091125/ap_on_re_us/us_chinese_drywall

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