The construction industry appears to be the latest victim of the stream of defectively manufactured goods from China that have poured into our country over the last few years. As if the construction market has not experienced enough hardship in these trying economic times, reports have recently surfaced of defective drywall products that were imported from China as the likely cause of putrid sulfur odor emissions being experienced in newly constructed homes and failure of metal devices typically installed behind sheetrocked walls, such as HVAC systems and metallic wiring. (See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123171862994672097.html). Although drywall products used by American builders were typically manufactured in the U.S., a shortage of construction materials in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina lead to builders importing the products from overseas.
A handful of builders and environmental consultants, mostly in the Florida area, are investigating whether the drywall that was imported from China is emitting sulfur-based gases that could be corroding air-conditioner coils, computer wiring and metal picture frames. Homeowners in several Florida counties have reported that their evaporator coils of air-conditioning equipment prematurely failed, were replaced, and then failed again. The Sulfur odors have been associated with erosion on copper in electrical outlets, metal surfaces behind refrigerators and other places where metal is in these homes. The Sulfur odor can also cause people to experience mild and moderate respiratory irritation that clears up only when they leave the homes. These reports have lead to homeowners expressing concerns whether the odor will cause long-term health conditions if they stay in the home.
The Environmental Protection Agency has investigated the problem and confirms there is a problem with the drywall from China:
“It is the drywall, and from what I gather it is causing a problem with copper and, specifically, air conditioning units,” said Dawn Harris-Young, spokeswoman from the EPA’s Region 4 in Atlanta.
The extent of the problem is not yet known, with reports coming in mostly in the southeast, but at least one case reported in the Virginias. Officials have indicated that children and the elderly are at the highest risk for health problems from the sulfur gas emissions, and that individuals with asthma or chemical sensitivity are at an even higher risk.
If you suspect your home may be built with defective Chinese drywall, contact us here for a free no obligation case review.