What is Chinese drywall?
From about 2003 to 2009, some drywall imported from China was defective and contained high concentrations of sulfur compounds. This caused odor problems in homes constructed or remodeled with this drywall, and contributed to corroding wiring and metal fittings. Some homes may still contain some of this defective drywall. There are no persisting ongoing problems with newly imported drywall.
Does Chinese drywall pose health risks?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has identified gases emitted from Chinese drywall from samples of imported drywall and from analyzing the air in homes built with defective drywall. The gases that are emitted can smell like “rotten eggs” and may irritate some individuals. Individuals that feel they may be affected should consult with their family physician. Current data does not suggest any immediate or chronic health problems associated with Chinese drywall.
Some of the gases emitted from Chinese drywall can corrode metals, in particular, copper. Corroded metals such as brass fittings, copper coils, and electrical wires may pose an immediate health risk. Leaking gas pipes and air conditioning units may expose you to Freon and natural gas. Corroded electrical wires may affect the normal functioning of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
If a natural gas leak is suspected you should contact your local gas company immediately.
How do I know if I have Chinese drywall?
Most drywall from China will be labeled on the back of the drywall with “made in China,” however, it is possible that drywall from China may not have any markings. It is also possible that a home could contain both drywall made in the U.S. and drywall made in China. Homes considered to potentially be affected by Chinese drywall would have been built or renovated between 2003-2009 and meet two or more of the following:
- The presence of sulfur-like or other unusual odors
- Drywall labeled “made in China”
- Observed copper corrosion, indicated by black, sooty coating of un-insulated copper pipe leading to the air conditioning unit
- Documented failure of air conditioner evaporator coil (located inside the air conditioning unit)
- Confirmation by an outside expert or professional of the presence of premature copper corrosion on un-insulated copper wires and/or air conditioner evaporator coils (inside the air conditioning unit)
Who can I contact to inspect my home?
If you think that your home has been affected by Chinese drywall you should contact a licensed professional. Plumbers, electricians, building contractors, home inspectors, environmental contractors, heating and air conditioning contractors, and other licensed professionals may be able to assist with evaluating damage to your home.
How can I treat my home if it is affected by Chinese Drywall?
VDH is not aware of any effective treatment method other than complete removal and replacement of the drywall and affected metal. Quick and easy approaches such as painting the drywall, or the use of ozone generators have not been shown to be effective.
Will the Health Department sample and test my home?
At this time the Virginia Department of Health does not conduct testing or analysis of building material or indoor air.
What should a homebuyer consider if concerned about buying a home that may contain Chinese Drywall?
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