Drywall imported from China, blamed for rotten egg odors, fast metal corrosion and health problems for some homeowners, contains sulfur and other materials not found in U.S. made drywall, according to preliminary federal tests.
The questionable residential building material has been installed in some 100,000 homes nationwide according to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), whose high number of complaining constituents put him at spearhead of an effort to learn more about the suspect drywall.
Some 36,000 homes in Florida, as well as additional properties in post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana and Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi and California, were constructed with the Chinese-made material, recently found to be quite different from U.S.-made drywall.
With the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission the lead federal agency looking into complaints surrounding Chinese drywall, preliminary research from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found the Chinese-made drywall contained sulfur, which is not in U.S. drywall, but widely used in black gunpowder, matches, insecticides and fungicides.
EPA tests also found strontium, (a metallic element that is highly reactive chemically, including, in a finely powdered state, spontaneous ignition at room temperature) at levels 10 times as high as in U.S. drywall.
The EPA also found two other organic compounds, generally found in acrylic paint, but not in U.S.-made wallboard. They were • propanoic acid, 2-methyl-, 2,2-dimethyl-1-(2-hydroxy-1-methylethyl) propyl ester • propanoic acid, 2-methyl-, 3-hydroxy-2,4,4-trimethylpentyl ester.
The preliminary tests were only designed to find differences in the imported drywall and U.S.-made drywall, after scores of homeowners complained of smelly odors, respiratory health problems, and corroding wiring, metal, jewelry and mirrors.
With class action and builder-originated suits swelling against suppliers and manufacturers, hundreds of homeowners complained to Florida's Department of Health, which offers a host of informational materials, including
• Frequently Asked Questions Web page.
• A Drywall Issues Timeline, outlining the sequence of events.
• A do-it-yourself Step-by-Step Self-Assessment Guide for signs that a home may be affected by drywall imported from China.
Along with Nelson, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has sponsored appropriations legislation for more CPSC funds so it can further investigate the matter.
"In the end, I think all this stuff is going to have to be ripped out," Nelson said.
Landrieu said, "Sen. Nelson and I are continuing to work closely with federal officials to get answers for families with sick children and pets, construction workers and builders removing the product, and local health officials who are concerned with dumping the drywall in their landfills."