Not-so-great wall of China: Imported drywall could be toxic
Yet another Chinese-made good is threatening the health of people here in the U.S. This time the culprit isn't something that you'd have your kids play with – like a toy coated with toxic paint. Or something you'd put in your mouth – like poisonous toothpaste, or tainted milk, or corrupted pharmaceutical ingredients. No, this time it's none of those – but it could be even worse. It's drywall.
Florida homeowners have complained that the drywall in their homes, which was imported from China, is not only giving off a foul odor like sulfer, but is also emitting corrosive gases that are destroying home appliances. There's one documented case of the sulfide gases from this drywall rotting the copper coils of an air conditioner.
So you can just imagine what it's doing to people's lungs.
In fact, some homeowners with this drywall have already filed lawsuits against builders and suppliers, claiming that they're not only surrounded with walls smelling of rotten eggs, but that they're also suffering from sore throats and headaches as a result.
The rotten egg smell is no surprise. The Chinese drywall has large amounts of sulfer in it. In the U.S., the chief component of drywall is gypsum. It's just a shot in the dark, but I'm guessing the reason there could be high levels of sulfer in the Chinese drywall is that sulfer is cheaper than gypsum.
The Chinese drywall entered the country during a building material shortage from 2004 to 2007 (spurred by the rebuilding boom in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina), so the homes using it were completed recently.
The Florida Department of Health is looking into all this, but claim that more time and testing are needed to find out if the drywall is indeed a health hazard to homeowners. According to the state toxicologist of Florida Dr. David Krause, this determination could take months.
Of course it could.
Florida's hot, humid climate could play a large role in the drywall's stink. It's similar to a story I told you about last year about formaldehyde seeping from the walls of FEMA trailers in New Orleans due to the rapid deterioration of the materials because of the moist conditions.
This is hardly an excuse. I don't recall any U.S.-made drywall that causes copper coils to corrode, regardless of the climate. I know there are American companies at stake – and they will be at the business end of the lawsuits about this shoddy drywall from China, the world capitol of useless and dangerous goods.
I've said it before, and here I go again: If you value your health, don't buy anything from China.
Next Discussion: Who needs glasses. »