The overall building structure of a business is often an overlooked but yet important factor to indoor air quality and the health of those occupants, such as workers that face large exposure times in this building structure. A major component to a building and its structure is the type of drywall that is used in the interior of the indoor building space. Drywall has long been an ongoing problem for the last decade, as many homes and industrial buildings were found to contain potentially toxic drywall materials in the infrastructure of these buildings. The biggest issue with drywall was the imported material from china that has since been labeled as “Chinese drywall”.

Beginning in the mid 2000’s builders started to turn to a new drywall material that was manufactured overseas, due to shortages following Hurricane Katrina and Rita that spiked the home construction business. According to NOLO, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) received complaints from several homeowners in over 44 states, with the bulk of them being in Florida complaining about the conditions in their home caused by this imported drywall that was installed in the infrastructure of their homes and even business owners. What exactly is it about this Chinese drywall that was dangerous in a home, is this drywall still present in many buildings and homes today, and what would be the best way to remediate this hazardous drywall situation in these commercial business facilities?

In this article we are going to learn more about the dangers of Chinese drywall in a commercial business, what and why this drywall is dangerous, and the proper steps to take to remediate this Chinese drywall in your building.

What is Chinese Drywall

What is Chinese DrywallEvery home or building will contain drywall as a key component to the structure, with this material usually consisting of a gypsum-based plaster that is extruded between two thick sheets of paper and kiln-dried. Drywall has been heavily used in last 50 years of building and construction to act as the material that will cover the framing of your interior walls and ceilings. This material was patented in 1894 and was originally intended to be a labor-saving substitute for traditional plaster. Typically, this drywall material is made using gypsum, a natural nontoxic mineral that is mined around the world. However, during the time frame between 2004 and 2007, many homes were not built using this drywall material – rather the drywall used was imported from China which has commonly been labeled Chinese drywall.

Homeowners began to report of the issues they were having in their home, from what they believed stemmed from the contaminated drywall used in the building structure. According to Wikipedia, the Florida Department of Health issued an advisory at this time for homeowners and business owners to check copper tubing coil near air handling systems and refrigeration units for corrosion that could be causing these symptomatic issues indoors. However, the source of the issue was in fact the contaminated drywall that was produced and made by China – Chinese drywall.

What are the Signs of Chinese Drywall

How do you know if the drywall used in your business was made with safe materials, and not toxic Chinese drywall? When it comes to Chinese drywall there are some key, identifiable signs that will give way to its presence in your building structure. Not surprisingly the main sign will be health related symptoms that only occur inside the indoor environment – which can be a potential sign of Chinese drywall. These health effects could range from irritation, coughing, headaches, sore throat, and other respiratory symptoms that a person may experience when inside their home or office. Additionally, there are some other signs that could be present with Chinese drywall, according to the Spruce, such as the following;

  • Copper in piping of the building will corrode rapidly when in contact with the drywall.
  • Black distinct discoloration on building wiring.
  • Appliances and electronics start failing.
  • Strong, foul sulfurous odor that is being emitted from the walls of the building.
  • Any metal that is in contact with the drywall starts to corrode exponentially quick in the environment.
  • Any new drywall that was installed after 2001 should be checked for toxic components.

Chinese Drywall Issues

Chinese Drywall IssuesChinese manufacturers who built and produced this drywall did so using short cuts and unreliable materials, such as unrefined “fly ash” that is a residue found in coal-fired power plants. This ash contains strontium sulfide, a compound that can emit hydrogen sulfide, carbon disulfide, and carbonyl sulfide in hot and humid conditions – the mixture that led to the contamination in the air of a home or business with Chinese drywall. In addition to the emission of chemical compounds into the air of the indoor space, which can cause an array of health effects and complications, this Chinese drywall also had an impact on the building structure.

The Chinese drywall was found to have a significant impact on the building structure, including appliances and other electrical wiring that was corroded by the material of the drywall on the surfaces of the structure. Solving this Chinese drywall problem was no easy task, and still today there are buildings that still have Chinese drywall installed, which has led to increasing worry and pursuits to find a resolution to aid in the mitigation of this drywall.

How to Remove Chinese Drywall

If you find that you have Chinese drywall present in your building structure, it is important to work diligently to mitigate and remove the drywall from the building entirely. The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) recommends that removing and replacing all the problems with the drywall is important to the health and safety of the environment. As we have discussed above, there are multiple problems that can occur from the use of Chinese drywall in an indoor space, and therefore the moment that testing is conducted and this toxic drywall is determined to be found in the building, you will want to have a restoration project conducted quickly and swiftly.

The steps to removing Chinese drywall from a building will include several key components to identify and properly remediate the Chinese drywall situation. These steps will include first, identifying and testing for this toxic drywall in the home, as well as then determining if proper remediation measures must be taken if Chinese drywall is present in the indoor space.

Testing for Chinese Drywall

When it comes to testing for Chinese drywall, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the lead federal agency for investigating damage to home that are suspected to be from Chinese drywall use in the structure. These government officials, specifically the Federal Interagency Task Force, began testing drywall in homes, and found a strong association between the problem with drywall and the home conditions. These testing devices include test kits, inspections, and other testing measures for drywall toxicity.

Testing for Chinese DrywallThere are several ways to determine whether or not your home has problem drywall present. The longer the drywall has been in the home, the more “symptoms” that may be present. There are basically two steps to testing for Chinese drywall—a visual inspection and looking for evidence of corroboration. The visual inspection will involve looking at the wiring and A/C coils—blackening is a sign that the drywall is present. Also, a visual inspection will involve examining the drywall itself and seeing when it was built. The problem drywall was only installed between 2001 and 2009, so if your drywall indicates dates installed outside of these dates, it is probably not Chinese drywall.

In the second step of determining if you have Chinese drywall, between two to four of the signs must be present to confirm the drywall is bad. If the drywall was installed before 2004, four signs must be evident. If it was installed in 2005 or after, two signs must be clear. The potential signs include sulfur present in the core of the drywall; copper sulfide present on wiring; high sulfide gas emissions; and corrosion caused by the drywall once in a lab. These four signs require lab testing to be proven. Another sign is that there are Chinese markings on the drywall. This doesn’t necessarily mean the drywall is from the bad batch but can be one identifying sign.

Chinese Drywall Remediation

The remediation process in a building that has been identified to have Chinese drywall within the confined spaces of this environment must be methodical and safely conducted. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has outlined a remediation guideline for people to follow when removing this toxic drywall from the building structure. These guidelines include the following steps for the replacement of these items;

  1. Possible problem drywall that has been identified by the CPSC
  2. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
  3. Electrical distribution components
  4. And fusible-type fire sprinkler heads

In addition to these items, the Chinese drywall will need to be decontaminated and removed from the environment. The decontamination process of this toxic drywall will require an effective solution that both works to rid the toxic components of this drywall, while maintaining safety measures in the environment. Among the various options for Chinese drywall decontamination, the OdorKlenz Chinese Drywall treatment is a top solution to use on this toxic drywall.

OdorKlenz Structural Surface Treatment for Chinese Drywall is easily sprayed on and behind surfaces that were in close proximity or in contact with contaminated drywall to provide continued decontamination. OdorKlenz Structural Surface Treatment leaves behind a protective barrier to guard against the harmful odors and gasses that can be re-released over time. OdorKlenz provides a whole home approach to restore structures completely and successfully. Hundreds of homes have been salvaged due to OdorKlenz technology.

Article Sources:

  1. NOLO: Chinese Drywall: Health Problems and Property Damage (link)
  2. Wikipedia: Chinese Drywall (link)
  3. The Spruce: Chinese Drywall: How to Determine If You Have This Inferior Product (link)
  4. Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information: Tests for Defective Drywall (link)
  5. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): Remediation Guidance for Homes with Corrosion from Problem Drywall as of March 15, 2013 (link)

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