Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chinese Drywall

Chinese Drywall Misery
By JR Hafer
During the out of control housing boom of 2005 combined with the rebuilding of annihilated homes and other structures, after nine major hurricanes, the demand created a shortage of concrete, drywall and various building materials setting the stage for a perfect storm.

Have you noticed your jewelry excessively tarnished and your light and plumbing fixtures and door hinges corroding? Do you keep checking the garbage for rotten eggs? It could be your drywall. Yes, your drywall, it could also be making you sick and irritable.

Drywall is an interior building material that replaced plastered walls in the 50s and 60s. Drywall is gypsum material sandwiched and pressure pressed between two sheets of paper dried in a kiln at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit.

Laboratory tests have identified volatile chemicals in drywall mostly manufactured in China and imported into the United States during 2001 through 2007. The chemicals identified as carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide and hydrogen sulfide are emitting sulfurous gases. These emissions have the aroma of rotten eggs.

The chemical gases emitted worsen with higher temperature and humidity. As a result of these emitted gaseous fumes, homeowners have contracted respiratory infections, skin rashes, severe headaches, watering eyes, sinus problems and nostril lesions and bleeding.

The drywall identified as manufactured in China causes copper and silver surfaces to corrode, turn black and have a powdery residue that is indicative of a chemical reaction with hydrogen sulfide.

There have been reports that some imported drywall could be radioactive as well. This could very well be another nail in the coffin of our national economy and free wheeling lenders who have been collecting foreclosures like others collect antiques and artifacts.

The problem of American drywall shortage was exacerbated by the rebuilding demands of nine hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004 and 2005. Over 550 million pounds of Chinese manufactured drywall was imported affecting over 100,000 homes.

Not all drywall manufactured in China is tainted and not all tainted drywall is marked as manufactured in China either. Some toxic drywall bears U. S. Company’s names too. It is not known if those were re-branded here but also made in China or not.

Common sense would indicate that thousands of foreclosed houses that have been abandoned probably have Chinese drywall issues. If this is the case, then the toxic drywall issue could become another broadside hit to the lenders who have foreclosed on property and are trying to re-sell them on the market. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is currently studying the problem.

Meanwhile, scam artists have already started preying on the fears of homeowners and potential buyers with bogus remedies including test kits, ozone generators and chemical cleaners. It is important to note: there is no home test kit, chemical sprays nor air filters that can test or rectify the atmospheric problems caused by Chinese manufactured drywall.

Be cautious of anyone offering testing or remediation services for toxic drywall issues. At this time there are no tests, short of tearing out sections for testing by government agency laboratories. Contact local authorities and building code offices for advise regarding toxic drywall.

The noxious odor combined with corroded wires and health issues are signs of possible toxic drywall materials present in your home. A warning has been issued by the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission, stating it is not safe to wash the walls or steam clean your floors and carpets if you suspect your home has the unsafe drywall.

As of yet, there are no known deaths directly attributed to Chinese drywall and the long-term effects are unknown. However, there are factors to consider when investigating health problems that may be suspect and concurrent with moving into a newly constructed home during 2001 through 2008.

There are no easy remedies if you suspect that you have this toxic drywall problem in your house. If you are experiencing any physical ailments, including coughing, wheezing, excessive sneezing, eye irritation, sore throat, bloody nose dizziness, headaches and nausea which ease or cease upon leaving your home, you need to seek help. You should contact your physician right away.

Every homeowner of houses constructed within the specified time period and having the symptoms mentioned should be aware of other potential problems as well, such as power outages, hot electrical switches, flickering lights, and unusual sounds. Odors and mild tingles should also cause you concern.

If you have gas service in your home and you have these problems and gas odors, the possibilities of gas line corrosion is a serious concern. Contact your gas supplier immediately and vacate the premises. If you cannot contact the gas supplier’s office, call the fire department right away.

The toxic drywall problem is real and to this point has been downplayed but it is a dangerous brewing storm on the horizon one we shall all remember. We all should take note of this savage storm looming over us. The government doesn’t know what to do and right now there is nothing short of partial demolition, re-wiring and re-plumbing to cure the problem. It will affect us all in one way or the other, just wait and see. Do we smell another bail out down the road maybe? It smells like something is rotten doesn’t it?

1 comment:

  1. This is a very informative article. I think everybody should be aware of it. I learned a lot from reading this article. I hope all realtors will read this.