The Chinese drywall product liability complaint is now nearly a year old. And while incidents of Chinese drywall being installed in homes have all but stopped, complaints of bloody noses, sinus infections and vomiting spells for pets and people, widespread corrosion and blackening of copper tubing and wiring and “rotten egg” smell continue to escalate. Last spring, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted 44 investigations into consumer complaints about drywall.
One thing most of the affected houses have in common is water damage—either through floods, leaks or humidity.
A remediation specialist conducted a visual examination of a affected home’s air conditioning unit. The remediation specialist retained by the consumer told him that the air conditioner had a Freon leak due to corroded evaporator coils. The remediation specialist also examined the electrical wiring inside the home’s light switches. The remediation specialist told the consumer that the copper wires in some of the home’s light switches were black and corroded.
The consumer stated that the remediation specialist told him that the corrosion was caused by a sulfuric mist created when moisture hits the Chinese drywall.
Knauf, a Taiwanese drywall manufacturer, initiated its own investigation after complaints started to surface.
Air testing was performed in homes containing the Knauf Tianjin gypsum plasterboard and in one home containing a similar product from another supplier. Sampling of air from unused packaged product and outdoor air was also performed. Samples of bulk plasterboard manufactured by Knauf and two other Chinese manufacturers were tested for chemical composition, along with a product manufactured in the United States. The testing revealed that the Knauf Tianjin product released low levels of certain naturally-occurring sulfur-containing compounds. Testing of the bulk material revealed the likely source of these compounds was a sulfur-containing mineral known as iron disulfide.
One of the other two products manufactured in China presented a similar odor and also contained the iron disulfide mineral. Based on comparison with occupational and public exposure limits, toxicology testing data, and on data regarding air concentrations from natural sources, it was concluded that measured concentrations of the detected chemicals in air were not present at levels that present a public health concern.
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