The Scoop on Sulfur in Chinese Drywall

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Sulfur Gases in Chinese Drywall

Complaints indicate that there may be problems with some drywall made in China. The Wall Street Journal reports that sulfuric gases have been emanating from drywall made from gypsum taken from a gypsum mine in China, or possibly manufactured from the by-product of coal fired plants. This drywall has been put in 35,000 to 100,000 US homes. Although this is a small fraction of the drywall installed in the US, it is enough to cause serious problems for the owners.

It is thought that the gases coming from this Chinese-made drywall is creating electrical problems by corroding the installed wiring and copper plumbing within structures. Additionally, it could be corroding air-conditioner coils, the wiring of computers, and metal picture frames. Although current testing indicates that the sulfur based gases are not sufficient to create a health risk, there are many who feel that if there is enough corrosive gases in the house to eat into metal, that it can't be good to breathe.

It seems that as heat and humidity increase, so do the gases coming from the drywall. They give off a kind of rotten egg odor. These types of gases can cause asthmatic reactions. Heavy doses cause immediate breathing discomfort, coughing, and irritation of the throat and eyes. According to the CDC, chronic exposure to heavy doses of "sulfur dioxide and other air pollutants have been reported to contribute to or aggravate acute, nonspecific diseases of the upper respiratory tract, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer."

Most of the affected wall-board was shipped to the United States and installed in homes mainly between 2002 and 2007. It was imported during the huge building boom when there was insufficient US product to meet demand. It has been found primarily in new built homes in the Southeastern states, especially Florida and Louisiana. But it may be a problem all across the country as it would be noted soonest in warm and humid states. Knauf Plasterboard - Tianjin Co, and Taishan Gypsum Ltd are the manufacturers currently being sued by home owners and home builders.

It is important to note that all drywall contains sulfur. It is the form of sulfur in Chinese manufactured drywall that causes the problem. Drywall in the United States comes from known gypsum mines, and also is manufactured from gypsum that comes as a by-product of coal-fired electric plants. In China, the by-product of the coal electric plants is not treated to control pollutants in the same way it is in the US. So Chinese gypsum contains sulfurs that turn to a gaseous state.

To find out if your home has been built using this type of drywall The San Diego Real Estate Inspection Company recommends you go into the attic and lift some of the insulation and see if you can find the name of the manufacturer on the back. "Knauf" would be a telltale sign. The country of manufacture should be posted somewhere on the drywall.

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