Chinese-Made Drywall

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), thousands of U.S. homes built from 2001-2008 are tainted by Chinese-made drywall. The emission of high levels of hydrogen sulfide gas from this product is linked to the corrosion of building components such as electrical wiring, copper plumbing, and air conditioning units, as well as household items like computers and jewelry. In addition, the drywall may be connected to possible throat, nose and lung irritation.

On April 2, 2010, based on completed and ongoing scientific study of the problem, HUD and CPSC issued interim remediation guidance to help homeowners struggling to rid their properties of problem drywall (the interim protocol was released before all ongoing scientific studies on problem drywall are completed so that homeowners can begin remediating their homes). The interim guidance recommends consumers remove all possible problem drywall from their homes, and replace electrical components and wiring, gas service piping, fire suppression sprinkler systems, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Taking these steps should help eliminate both the source of the problem drywall and corrosion-damaged components that might cause a safety problem in the home. CPSC will continue to release its scientific studies as they are completed.

Completed studies show a connection between certain Chinese drywall and corrosion in homes. The top ten reactive sulfur-emitting drywall samples were all produced in China. Certain Chinese samples had emission rates of hydrogen sulfide 100 times greater than non-Chinese drywall samples. The patterns of reactive sulfur compounds emitted from drywall samples show a clear distinction between the certain Chinese drywall samples manufactured in 2005/2006 and non-Chinese drywall samples. Some Chinese drywall samples were similar to non-Chinese samples. Finally, several Chinese samples manufactured in 2009 demonstrate a marked decrease in sulfur emissions as compared to the 2005/2006 Chinese samples. CPSC is continuing to look at long term health and safety implications.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns consumers to exercise caution in hiring contractors who claim to be experts in testing for and removing problem drywall. In a December 2009 Consumer Alert, the FTC recommends that homeowners confirm a contractor’s references, qualifications and background before agreeing to hire them.