Columbia Analytical Services

Low Cost ‘Chinese Drywall’ Testing Available for Elemental Sulfur

Chinese Drywall Testing for SulfurSimi Valley, Calif. — A low cost testing option is now available from Columbia Analytical for detecting elemental sulfur (S8) in bulk drywall. The testing focuses on orthorhombic cyclooctasulfur (elemental sulfur: S8), a unique marker compound found only in drywall which causes corrosion. The test costs approximately $100 per drywall sample, depending on your project.

Columbia Analytical’s proven method for elemental sulfur uses gas chromatography with electron capture detection (GC/ECD) and allows for rapid turnaround of sample results. The GC/ECD analytical technique offers comparable sensitivity to the GC/MS method also offered by Columbia Analytical, but at a substantially lower cost.

The low cost GC/ECD analysis allows clients to screen a large volume of drywall samples quickly for S8. Because drywall used in home construction can be from mixed sources, submission of multiple samples from one suspect home may be done to reduce the risk of false negative results. In addition, confirmatory analysis of drywall for S8 by GC/MS is still available and may be performed on the same sample as the GC/ECD analysis.

Roughly 5g (approximately 2”x2”) of bulk drywall material is all that is required for this new GC/ECD analysis. Results are reported in units of mg/kg. A result higher than 10 mg/kg is typically indicative of corrosive drywall, making it easy to identify “bad drywall.”

Columbia Analytical’s Research & Development team began laboratory analysis on suspect drywall in spring 2008. They have since analyzed several hundred drywall samples from homeowners, home builders and developers, environmental consultants/industrial hygienists, government agencies and contractors, as well as, domestic and foreign drywall producers as part of their method development.

Columbia Analytical Services, Inc. is an employee-owned, full-service environmental analytical laboratory testing network established in 1986 and headquartered in Kelso, Washington. Their expertise encompasses air, water, dioxin, biological, pharmaceutical, solid and hazardous waste analyses.

For more information on the laboratory analysis of problem drywall, contact the Simi Valley laboratory at +1 805 526 7161 or visit Columbia Analytical’s website at

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8 Responses to “Low Cost ‘Chinese Drywall’ Testing Available for Elemental Sulfur”

  1. RON WILLMES Says:

    Is sealing the chinese drywall to eliminate the exposure to air a method to control the toxic smell and hazard?

  2. Columbia Analytical Says:

    Many firms are attempting different remediation/mitigation strategies to deal with Chinese drywall, and certainly there is a good deal of research in this area. At this time, we are not aware of any one solution (other than complete removal of the drywall) that has been endorsed by public health officials. Columbia Analytical Services, as an analytical laboratory, does not endorse products or services, or make health based claims.

  3. Charlie Leonard Says:

    How does elemental sulfur cause corrosion? Or is it a marker for other compounds that are converted to H2S? If a marker, then what’s the assurance that it won’t be found in “good” drywall? What’s the chemistry here? thanks

  4. Columbia Analytical Says:


    The exact chemical mechanism explaining the corrosive drywall phenomenon, and how elemental sulfur relates to the emission of reduced sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, is not known at this time. Based on research conducted at Columbia Analytical, for a sample population of 143 samples:

    » 87 were positive for S8

    » Of those 87 samples, 95% were both positive for the H2S and Blackening/Corrosion tests.

    » 56 samples that were negative for S8

    » 87% of those samples were also negative for both the H2S and Blackening/Corrosion tests.

    These results support the claim that elemental sulfur (S8) is a unique and reliable indicator of corrosive drywall. We are currently in the process of conducting a more thorough statistical analysis of our data set to further justify this position.

  5. kathy Says:

    We recently had a sample of our suspect drywall tested here in Louisiana at an independent lab. They only tested for the sulfur content and the report we received after testing gives no specifics besides stating that the sulfur content was 4,200 ppm. He said it is the highest he has tested or seen thus far, but reminds us that there have been no standards set as of yet.

    We are very concerned as all the reports that we have been reading from the various test data show no sulfur levels in suspect drywall at this high level. I am thinking that we are either misinterpreting something or that 4,200 ppm is a sum total of something else. Could you offer any suggestions on this.

    Kathy Williamson

  6. kathy Says:

    Pardon my mistake on email above. I checked my report and the reported sulfur content of our sample was 42,000 ppm not 4,200.

  7. Geri Says:

    I have LaFarge Drywall from 2003 - I’ve had all of the appliance failures Air Handler, computer printer, hot water heater etc. I have had all of the health problems related to the CDW and my dogs all three now have urinary incontinence and bacteria infections as well. Also, I’ve 2 dogs with a Cancer Biopsy, one is deceased and I’m using all kind of antioxidants to help her immune system.

    LaFarge does recycle drywall so that in January of this year my report came back as “Negative”. I’ve read that a lab tested LaFarge and it contains DMSO or bacteria which would account for our immune deficiencies.

    I also read that the same lab put a piece of drywall in a sealed container with water & a piece of copper and it turned the copper black. I’ve done the same and within three weeks the copper was turning black and after 5 weeks it is now black. I also put another piece of copper in water with NO CDW and it is still clean.

    Since my house had received a false negative the attorney I had hired is still claiming that I do not have CDW even though I’ve sent her recent photos that show the problem exists.

    Since my bedrooms are no longer AC my jewelry and pennies etc are now turning black.

    How can I definitively show that CDW exists in my house? I’m sure there are other people like me who are falling thru the cracks.

    Thanks for any advice you can give me!

  8. Roger Elliott Says:

    We have Taishan CDW and live in Florida. Samples were sent to your lab several years ago by HSA Scientists and Engineers, following your chain of custody protocols. Our samples tested positive. I’m curious about off-gassing. I realize that many doubt this happens in any reasonable span of time. But given that it has been at least three years since, one would think that a second test might yield interesting results. Do you suggest doing so?

    The fact that some degree of off-gassing may have occurred could give, over time, back-up-plan-of-sorts. Using the cancer analogy, if after remediation some microscopic amount of corrosive compounds remained anywhere, then the hope would be that these vestigial remains could self extinguish given enough time. Doesn’t it seems reasonable to think that some measure of off-gassing is inevitable given the nature that all gasses seek re-distribution/ diffusion?

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