Building Health Services

Chinese/Corrosive Drywall Inspections

Indoor Environmental Technologies (IET) has been involved with the Chinese/Corrosive drywall issue since 2007, testing and consulting on numerous projects and legal cases. We provide Chinese drywall inspections for the Tampa Bay area and travel throughout Florida. Although the issues surrounding Chinese drywall can be difficult to define, IET has established itself as a leader in the evaluation and consulting field by adhering to accepted State of Florida and Federal guidelines and through long-standing relationships with excellent laboratories around the country.

What is the background on Chinese Drywall?

During the building boom of the mid-2000's, building materials in the U.S., particularly drywall, were in short supply. This shortage was compounded by the additional demand for drywall required to repair damage caused by several large hurricanes in Florida and other states during that time period. Unaware of the unintended consequences from inadequate quality control in China, numerous drywall importers serving builders and remediation contractors found a convenient solution to this shortage by importing millions of pounds of drywall from China. It was abundant and cheap, though obviously a heavy material such as drywall is not inexpensive to ship around the world. That "solution" is now haunting thousands of homeowners in Florida who are concerned their drywall is releasing sulfur gases that can corrode copper wiring, destroy A/C and refrigerator cooling coils, blacken plumbing fixtures and other metals, and possibly sicken people.

Homeowners who have been affected by corrosive "Chinese" drywall encounter mixed results when seeking relief from the financial burden that has been placed upon them by this defective product. Insurance companies, builders, attorneys, and class action litigation have provided relief to some. Some homeowners are left with few options other than covering the cost of Chinese drywall remediation themselves.

What are the health effects of Chinese/Corrosive Drywall?

Some occupants of affected buildings have complained of respiratory ailments, headaches, nose bleeds, eye irritation, and other health effects. A direct link or association has not to date been confirmed between these complaints and Chinese/corrosive drywall. There are many other possible causes of such health effects.

What is Chinese/Corrosive Drywall Syndrome (CDS)?

It is a complex of symptoms observed in buildings that appears to be primarily associated with the presence of drywall imported from China. Cases have been reported throughout the country, but Florida and parts of Louisiana and Mississippi seem to be the hardest hit.

How can I tell if I have Chinese/Corrosive Drywall?

  • A strong sulfur gas odor. This is the symptom that is generally noticed first by the occupants, although estimates are that about 25% of affected homes have no noticeable odor. The odor is often described as a struck match or rotten-egg odor.
  • Unusual black corrosion on copper HVAC coils and cold refrigerant lines. This is often associated with failure of the coils due to corrosive pitting, though it should be noted that the pitting is often microscopic. This failure sometimes occurs repeatedly, with replacement coils sometimes lasting only a few months. Air Conditioner failure is probably the most common indicator. Don’t confuse blackening with black coated coils. Some manufacturers have coated coils with Teflon-like materials in an effort to resist this and other types of corrosion.
  • Corrosion or blackening of other copper materials, including copper plumbing pipes, refrigerator lines, and natural gas lines.
  • Corrosion of other metals, including silver, tin, brass, bronze, chrome, nickel and other metals and alloys. The corrosion is unusual in type and intensity, often black in color, sometimes more of a pitting. Brushed nickel, stainless, etc. don’t generally appear to be affected.
  • Occupants of affected buildings have claimed health effects such as a variety of respiratory problems, nosebleeds, eye irritation, headaches, etc.

Corrosive/Chinese Drywall Inspection and Testing

Since not all drywall originating in China has corrosive characteristics associated with it, IET can help to determine the specific material present in a building.  Our investigations begin with an interview of the occupants followed by a thorough visual inspection including attics and HVAC systems.  Depending on the desires of the client and the visual evidence found, minimally destructive bulk sampling can be conducted for further confirmation of the presence or absence of Corrosive drywall in accordance with State of Florida Case Definition guidelines. We will also provide you with the documentation you require to move forward towards a resolution of your corrosive drywall issues.

Note: In 2011, the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission released Summary of Identification Guidance for Homes with Corrosion from Problem Drywall as of March 18, 2011. This document is more recent than the Florida Case Definition guidelines for identification. However, in IET's opinion the recommendations in this document are somewhat ambiguous, and will often be much more expensive to implement than those of the Florida Case Definition. If legal action or insurance claims are under consideration, particularly if claims involving health effects are involved, careful consideration should be given to choosing between the recommendations of these two documents. Contact IET to discuss this important issue further.

Chinese/Corrosive Drywall Remediation

The most recent guidelines provided by the Consumer Products Safety Commission recommend replacement of all possible problem drywall and of certain electrical, electronic and other components/fixtures. Numerous attempts to develop a less-invasive and expensive approach have not to date been shown to be effective. See the CPSC Remediation Guidelines.  (Link below in References)

If there are any updates related to the Chinese drywall issue, please visit our blog.

References

Florida Case Definition
http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/drywall/casedefinition.html

Consumer Protection Safety Commission
Identification: http://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/99196/IDguidance031811.pdf
Remediation: http://www.cpsc.gov//Global/Safety%20Education/Safety-information-Centers/Drywall/remediation031513.pdf

Photos

 
What is the Background of Chinese Drywall

What are the Health effects of Chinese Drywall

What is Chinese or Corrosive Drywall Syndrome (CDS)?

How to tell if you have Chinese or Corrosive Drywall

Corrosive/Chinese Drywall Inspection & Testing

Chinese/Corrosive Drywall Remediation

References

Photos

 


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