WHAT IS CHINESE DRYWALL?
Chinese Drywall refers to defective or tainted drywall imported from China from 2001 to 2007 which
emits sulfur gasses which usually (but not always) creates a noxious odor and corrodes copper and
other metal surfaces, thereby damaging your air conditioner, electrical wiring, copper plumbing,
appliances and electronics. Chinese drywall can also cause adverse health effects, although experts
disagree whether these effects are merely irritants or present a more imminent or chronic health
Not all drywall manufactured in China is defective.
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IS THE DRYWALL DANGEROUS?
There is no question that the gasses emitted from Chinese drywall corrode copper and metal
surfaces. Corrosion of electrical wiring may hamper the effectiveness of smoke detectors, which
clearly presents a safety concern. Low level arcing has also been observed in some homes with
Chinese drywall, which could cause an electrical fire.
Chinese drywall was found by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratories to emit hydrogen sulfide up to
100 times greater than non-Chinese produced drywall. Hydrogen sulfide is a hazardous gas which, in
high concentrations, can be fatal. There is also a strong association between hydrogen sulfide and
sulfide, although there remains disagreement regarding whether strontium is a valid marker for
According to Dr. Patricia Williams, a University of New Orleans toxicologist, highly toxic compounds
have been found in Chinese drywall and prolonged exposure to these compounds can cause serious
problems. Strontium sulfide may be dangerous to developing children; it affects bone growth.
Chronic exposure to these gases may affect the central nervous system (including visual and sensory
changes), cardiovascular system, eyes, kidneys, liver and skin. Infants, children, the elderly and
infirm (particularly those with heart and lung disease and diabetes) and pets may have an increased
vulnerability to these gases and the particulates that are released from the drywall. To date, the
Florida Department of Health still maintains that the levels found in Chinese drywall are not high
enough to present “an imminent or chronic health hazard at this time.” Many experts disagree.
COULD CHINESE DRYWALL BE IN MY HOME?
Hundreds of millions of sheets of Chinese drywall were imported from 2004 to 2006, but Chinese
drywall has recently been found in homes built or remodeled as early as 2001. Accordingly, this
phenomenon cannot be explained solely by the shortage of American-manufactured drywall. The
presence of Chinese drywall has been reported in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico
is estimated to have been installed in over 100,000 homes in the United States.
Unfortunately, this does not paint an accurate picture as most affected homes have a mixture of safe
and tainted drywall.
Chinese drywall is 1/2" in width, although Lori A. Streit, Ph.D., from Unified Engineering, the same
compounds found in problematic Chinese drywall and the same gases released therefrom have also
been found in drywall measuring 5/8" (which is typically used in ceilings). Chinese drywall is typically
mixed in with untainted drywall, which is why people should not assume that their home is fine if they
find U.S. drywall. Moreover, U.S. drywall may have been manufactured in China and rebranded
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF CHINESE DRYWALL?
Does your home smell like rotten eggs or ammonia (sometimes a sweetish smell)? Is it more
noticeable when entering your home and then seems to dissipate? The level of odor varies greatly in
each home as does each person’s ability to detect the odor. Of course, the strength of the odor also
depends on how much drywall was used in the home. Significantly, some homeowners report no smell,
but their home clearly has Chinese drywall. In short, do not rely on your nose alone, particularly since
many develop olfactory fatigue after being exposed to Chinese drywall.
One of the telltale signs is corrosion/pitting of the air conditioner evaporator coils
(which are located
inside the air handler). Many owners are first advised of a freon leak, and as the corrosion
progresses, evaporator coils eventually need replacement. An examination of the coils typically (but
not always) reveal a black sooty deposit, which may also appear on the freon line. Chinese drywall
also corrodes electrical wiring. After turning off the power (please be careful as you could get
shocked), check the electrical receptacles in your walls to see if the ground wires are blackened. The
wires in this photo have been corroded from Chinese drywall. Since many homes have mixed drywall
(i.e., good and bad drywall), not all ground wires will show blackening. There are also cases that are
not clear cut so please consult a qualified inspector.
Signs of an electrical problem include a circuit breaker which frequently needs resetting without an
apparent cause (particularly a GFCI or AFCI); lights that flicker without any apparent cause; bright
flashes or sparks anywhere in your electrical system (this may indicate arcing conditions in the wiring);
buzzing from electrical systems, switch plates, dimmers and outlet covers that are discolored from
overheating; and a smell from overheating plastic.
What is the role of strontium? Strontium sulfide, a material that can emit corrosive gases, has been
found in levels exceeding 1200 parts per million in Chinese drywall. "[I]t is possible to misclassify
homes because of other possible sources of ... corrosion such as volatile sulfur compounds from
sewer gas, well water, and outdoor contaminants that may enter the home independent of the drywall