The Impact of Chinese Drywall in American Homes
As an Arizona general contractor, it’s unfortunate to hear of another negative impact from the housing boom; Chinese drywall. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has received many complaints by homeowners from around the country regarding drywall installed in their homes that is causing odors, health problems, and corrosion issues. Many homeowners have complained of a ‘rotten egg’ odor, and corrosion of metals and electrical wiring in their homes. These complaints have been linked to drywall obtained from China. According to Chinese officials this problem was caused by the failure to remove sulfur from synthetic gypsum products used to make drywall. The sulfur that remains in the gypsum products can emit the ‘rotten egg’ odor that homeowners have experienced in their homes. The formation of hydrogen sulfide causes the rotten egg odor. Sulfur dioxide, another sulfur based compound is a corrosive material also be found in these homes and may be responsible for the corrosion of household metals. Homeowners with problematic drywall have complained of itchy eyes and skin, runny noses, nosebleeds, headaches, and asthma attacks. Health problems related to exposure may depend upon the intensity and duration of exposure.
Most drywall used in American homes is U.S. made, but during the housing boom, many products were imported from China to meet the growing US demand. It’s estimated that 100,000 American homes contain Chinese drywall. U.S. and Chinese officials are working closely together to analyze the situation. In many cases, they have taken indoor air samples and tested the contents of suspected drywall. Problematic drywall has been reported in the various states through-out the country. As one might expect there have been a multitude of lawsuits filed against home builders, producers, and importers of Chinese drywall. As Arizona general contractors we only use U.S. made drywall products.
Despite, officials working together and pending lawsuits, where does this leave homeowners that have Chinese drywall in their homes? In many situations builders have gone in and replaced the drywall with American made products. It’s recommended to do this as quickly as possible once problematic Chinese drywall has been identified to minimize corrosion of metals such as plumbing fixtures and household wiring. The best strategy is to replace the drywall as quickly as possible, yet at whoms expense? In most cases, it falls upon the homeowner and the builder to resolve this issue. If the builder refuses or is no longer in business, the responsibility may fall directly upon the homeowner. If the homeowner refuses and decides to sell the home, it may become a disclosure issue during the sale of the property. Some homeowners may choose to abandon the home and risk foreclosure. As an Arizona general contractor, we understand replacement is no easy feat, it is unlikely the homeowners could stay in the home while this major remodeling project occurred, furthering adding to a home owner’s burden of this problem.