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MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
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PET ALLERGENS / PET DANDER
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PLASTIC ODORS-SCREENS, SIDING
PLUMBING SYSTEM ODORS
PVC - VINYL BUILDING PRODUCTS
RADON HAZARD TESTS & MITIGATION
SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
SAFETY HAZARDS & INSPECTIONS
SEPTIC METHANE GAS
SEPTIC SYSTEM ODORS
SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP
SEWER GAS ODORS
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
UFFI UREA FORMALDEHYDE FOAM INSULATION
URETHANE FOAM Deterioration, Outgassing
VINYL CHLORIDE HEALTH INFO
VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS VOCs
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
This article series discusses Chinese Drywall, odors, indoor air quality hazards, corrosive outgassing, health hazards, and damage to copper building components such as copper electrical wiring and plumbing that may be caused by outgassing from Chinese Drywall used in construction in the U.S. Health complaints related to Chinese drywall outgassing include Individual sensitivity to odors varies substantially, making odor reports inconsistent, but complaints include headaches, runny noses, and difficulty breathing.
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Corrosive Drywall & "Chinese Drywall" Hazards: sources, causes, detection, & cures for corrosive drywall in buildings
This article series discusses the diagnosis and cure of odors from a variety of sources including animals including pets, dogs, cats, or unwanted animals or dead animals, formaldehyde odors in buildings from building products or furnishings, plumbing drains, plastic or vinyl odors from building products, flue gases, oil tanks or oil spills, pesticides, septic odors, sewer gases, and even abandoned chemicals at properties.
The page top photo of blackened corrosion on an air conditioner cooling coil is from the U.S. CPSC warning to fire safety professionals.
Readers should see ODORS, Smells, Gases in buildings-Diagnosis & Cure and also see our ODOR DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST, PROCEDURE for a quick check that can help identify the source of smells in buildings and see SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors. Also see drywall MSDS sheets found at Drywall MSDS.
Question: What is causing oxidation and corrosion on copper pipes in my building?
In this article we include a few pictures of my copper lines running to the condenser coils in an air conditioner. This is after only 3 1/2 years in our new home. I contacted the builders of our home, and the said they have never used drywall from china. I tested my water with a water test kit for hydrogen sulfide, and the results were less than .3 ppm. And I can't find any reports of any cases like mine. - B.S.
B.S. makes the point that not all blackened copper or corroded copper components in buildings is easily nor necessarily traced to the Chinese Drywall outgassing problem. Some of these other sources of corrosion include:
Chinese Drywall Outgassing
Chinese drywall has received considerable attention in the U.S. as a source of odors, health hazards, and even corrosion of HVAC equipment, electrical wiring, and piping, found in North American homes renovated or built since 2001, and especially in homes built in 2006 and 2007.
As reported in the CPSC/CDC/EPA/HUD CPSC Executive Summary on Chinese Drywall, [paraphrasing and editing]
There were also tests made for possibly high levels of sulphur-reducing bacteria in Chinese drywall, but as the summary continues:
As reported in the US CPSC Preliminary Evaluation of Drywall Chamber Test Results,
The same study reports that by 2009 the Chinese drywall product corrosive sulphur gas and other emissions were substantially reduced:
Drywall outgassing, not bacteria, explain the sulphur smell
The March 26, 2010 US CPSC report on Chinese Drywall indicated that the odor source is not bacteria but outgassing of sulphur compounds. Quoting from that study (page 6),
The effects of the outgassing of reactive sulfur compounds by Chinese drywall include
FHA-insured families experiencing problems associated with problem drywall may be eligible for assistance to help them rehabilitate their properties. HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program may also be a resource to help local communities combat the problem.
Homeowners who believe they may have problem drywall should immediately report to CPSC by calling 800-638-2772 or logging on to www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/drywall.aspx. Hearing- or speech-challenged individuals may access the phone number through TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law Regarding Chinese Drywall - Germano Case
A 10 April 2008 court document reporting findings of fact and conclusions of law in Germano, et al. v. Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd., et al., case no. 09-6687 [108 page PDF] specifies general scientific findings on Chinese drywall which distinguish it from typical, benign drywall as the following: [Also see details and additional cases quoted at Financial aid: Chinese drywall losses/repairs]
Names of Companies That Produced Outgassing Toxic Chinese Drywall
The Florida Sun Sentinel along with other news agencies such as the Los Angeles Times have reported (May 2010) that the U.S. CPSC has named five Chinese drywall Manufacturers, as the producers of corrosive H2S outgassing drywall and asked that these companies step up to their responsibilities to pay for repairs needed by U.S. homeowners who installed their products. Included among the five were the first five companies listed below in order of level of drywall outgassing:
These companies are or were producers of drywall sold in the U.S. that has been tested and confirmed as emitting so much hydrogen sulfide it can cause pipes and wires to corrode and cause breathing or respiratory problems for home occupants.
Problem outgassing by drywall sold by these companied emits corrosive gans at as much as 100 times other brands. Typical home repair costs at 100 to 150 thousand dollars where this Chinese drywall was installed according to CPSC chairwoman. Inez Tenenbaum.
Alison Grant, a Boca Raton FL lawyer representing more than 500 homeowners affected by Chinese drywall says that the U.S. appeals to the manufacturers to stand behind their product won't help, and that litigation is required. The Sun Sentinel article added that seven homeowners in Virginia and one in Louisiana have been awarded damages, but that foreign companies may not be compelled by U.S. court rulings.
In September 2010 the New York Times reported that severe financial problems and health concerns continue to plague owners of homes where Chinese drywall was used in construction or remodeling, particularly in homes built after 2004 when Hurricane Andrew had caused U.S. made drywall to be in short supply. See"Drywall Flaws: Owners Gain Limited Relief", The New York Times. 18 Sept. 2010.
Names of Companies Producing Safe Drywall Reported Not to Have Outgassing Problems
The CPSC has listed the following companies whose drywall samples were tested to produce low or no detectable emmission of sulfide outgassing.
Watch out: Notice that some of the same companies who produced problem drywall are also listed here - so just identifying the brand name of drywall does not necessarily indicate whether the specific product found in a particular home is a problem or not. That is why an expert inspection for signs of outgassing and corrosion as well as other identification steps are important.
U.S. Distributors of Outgassing Chinese Drywall
One U.S. drywall supplier, Banner Supply, was reported by Miami News Herald partner CBS4 as having been aware of the drywall outgassing problem without notifying its customers. Banner Supply switched to distributing U.S. made drywall and signed a confidentiality agreement with its Chinese supplier that obligated the distributor to remain silent about the problem. The Miami News Herald article (20 May 2010) reported that lawsuits against Banner Supply are expected to go to trial in June 2010 [in the Miami Dade Circuit Court].
Bank & Mortgage Relief for Homeowners Suffering Losses for Chinese Drywall Repairs
The U.S. government has encouraged lenders to suspend mortgage payments and to reduce property taxes on homes damaged by Chinese drywall. [Paraphrasing, The New York Times, 1 Oct. 2010]
Tax Relief for Chinese Drywall Losses in the U.S
Insurance Coverage for Chinese Drywall Losses in the U.S
As of September 2010, we have found noeports of payouts by U.S. insurance companies to cover costs to homeowners of repairs associated with sulphur outgassing Chinese drywall, and other media outlets indicate that insurance companies have been universally denying claims
Check this: Reported in several media outlets including the New Orleans Times Picayune (26 March 2010), The Louisian Court Orleans Parish Judge Lloyd Medley has issued a ruling striking certain homeowners insurance policy exclusions from being relied on by Audubon Insurance (owned by AIG), a home insurance company involved in denying a Chinese Drywall claim. Audubon had excluded Chinese Drywall claims under the terms of a "pollution or contamination" exclusion that Medley concluded applies to "environmental damage" and not to damage to a building from substandard building materials. [Think of losses caused by a building collapse due to inadequate sizing of framing member - Ed.]
Lawsuit, Litigation Results for Chinese Drywall Losses
There have been some "successful" class action and individual lawsuits involving claims for damages associated with the installation of Chinese-made drywall in U.S. homes, but actual settlements that addresses the losses of all homeowners in the U.S. may be very slow in coming.
The Wall Street Journal reported on 15 October 2010 that the New Orleans Judge Fallon who is handling these cases (see below) has agreed to a settlement under which Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin and related suppliers and insurers will remove and replace Knauf drywall, wiring, copper tubing, and appliances from 300 homes in four U.S. states (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida), as well as covering the relocation expenses for those homeowners. Costs are estimated at $40. to $80. per square foot of home interior space.
Appointment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana for Chinese Drywall Litigation Consolidated Hearings
In recognition that there has been U.S. nationwide litigation involving several class actions and thousands of individual cases, including 10 "bellwether" cases in Virginia and Louisiana, On 15 June 2009, a Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred all federal actions alleging damages from defective Chinese Drywall to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, referred to as the MDL Court) for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. p 1407. See In re Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Prod. Liab. Litig., 626 F. Supp. 2d 1346 (J.P.M.L. 2009) (Rec. Doc. No. 1). Above paraphrased from and also see "Case 2:09-md-02047-EEF-JCW Document 5011-1, Plaintiff's Steering Committee's Memorandum of Law in Support of its Motion to Enjoin Conflicting State Court Proceedings in Muscogee County, Georgia that interfere with this court's continuing jurisdiction over this litigation."
Bellwether Chinese Drywall Case Conclusions
Owners of seven homes in Virginia where Chinese tainted drywall was installed were awarded 2.6 million by the federal judge overseeing the Chinese drywall multidistrict litigation underway (in 2010) in New Orleans, LA as we reference just below.
United States District Court eastern District of Louisiana, In Re: Chinese Manufactured Drywall PRoducts Liability LItigation, MDL No. 2047, Section: L, Judge Fallon, Mag. Judge Wilkinson, Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law, Case 2:09-md-02047-EEF-JCW Document 2380 Filed 04/08/2010 [108 page PDF document]. We quote from the conclusions of that case, just below:
Additional Court Documents in re Chinese Manufactured Drywall Litigation in the U.S.
A 10 April 2008 court document reporting findings of fact and conclusions of law in Germano, et al. v. Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd., et al., case no. 09-6687 [108 page PDF] specifies general scientific findings on Chinese drywall which distinguish it from typical, benign drywall as the following:
Case 2:09-md-02047-EEF-JCW Document 5011-1, Filed 08/09/10, Plaintiff's Steering Committee's Memorandum of Law in Support of its Motion to Enjoin Conflicting State Court Proceedings in Muscogee County, Georgia that interfere with this court's continuing jurisdiction over this litigation.
Case 2:09-md-02047-EEF-JCW Document 1090 Filed 09/17/10 Daubert Order motions filed by the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee and Intervenor Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co., Ltd., ("Knauf") to exclude specific aspects of expert witness testimony.
See: U. S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans), CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 2:09-md-02047-EEF-JCW, -EEF-JCW In Re: Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, that collects the pertinent court documents, hosted at http://www.freecourtdockets.com/
The U.S. CPSC and the U.S. HUD in January 2010 issued recommended interim guidance for identifying problem Chinese drywall in buildings: Procedures for] Identification of Homes with Corrosion from Problem [Chinese] Drywall (local copy).
The CPSC-HUD recommendations involve two basic steps in identifying Chinese drywall that may be causing or contributing to a safety, mechanical, or air quality problem in homes: [From the Executive Summary of the CPSC HUD document cited above.]
Watch out: there are many other sulphur smell sources in buildings, and some of them may be quite dangerous. We provide a detailed list of sewer and sulphur gas odor sources later in this article at Sources of Sulphur Odors in buildings.
Additional information is in the document Procedures for] Identification of Homes with Corrosion from Problem [Chinese] Drywall from the CPSC and HUD.
The Florida Department of Health has also provided lists and photos of components in homes likely to be affected by sulphur and other outgassing products emitted by Chinese drywall in homes. That state's DOH also provides a case definition that "... enables the user to rank homes as a possible, probable, or confirmed case. Homes that exhibit the sentinel indicators of drywall associated corrosion are defined as possible cases. All three sentinel indicators of Criteria 1 must be met for the home to be considered as a possible case. Criteria that define a probable or confirmed case are described in later sections." - Florida DOH
The Florida DOH describes a similar three-criteria procedure for identifying problem Chinese drywall, summarized and commented-on just below:
Criteria 1 for Possible Chinese Drywall Case Identification
The Florida DOH Criteria 2 and 3 for confirming a Chinese drywall problem case are intended for use by trained building inspection experts. We summarize below material that is provided in detail at the FL DOH Chinese drywall information web article.
Examples of Drywall Identification Stamps that are NOT Chinese Drywall
Our photos (above and below) show modern identification stamps or lables that may be found drywall products used for interior walls and ceilings. Also see additional drywall identifying number stamps found at Drywall Gypsum Board Used for Exterior Wall Sheathing.
Criteria 2: for Probable Chinese Drywall Case Identification
If a home meets Criteria 1 for possible Chinese drywall presence, and significantly if you have ruled out other sources of hydrogen sulfide in the building, such as these sulphur or sewer gas odor sources ...
and where a number of items in Criteria 2 are confirmed, then the FL DOH considers the home a probable Chinese drywall case and investigation continues with Criteria No. 3 to attempt to identify the presence of Chinese drywall by product markings. We summarize the criteria just below:
Criteria 3: for Confirmed Chinese Drywall Case Identification
If the results of a Chinese drywall investigation have met the criteria for “possible case”, ruled out other sources of hydrogen sulfide as significant contributors to copper corrosion in the home (we listed possible sulphur gas and odor sources just above), and receive positive results on a sufficient number of samples from one or more of the above evaluations in Criteria 3, then according to the Florida DOH, the home meets the criteria for a “confirmed case”.
Sources of Sulphur Odors in buildings Include Smells Associated with Chinese Drywall & Other Causes in buildings
Before blaming drywall for building odors, be sure that the smells are not from another detectable source such as sewer gases or a failing hot water tank anode - see ODORS, Smells, Gases in buildings-Diagnosis & Cure for details and see SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors. The FL DOH suggests that reports of sulphur odors indoors are not a reliable indicator that Chinese drywall is present, because of a variety of reasons.
Below we list common sources of sulphur gases and odors in buildings as well as a few warnings about trying to confirm a Chinese drywall problem based on smell alone.
Common Sources of Sulphur Gases & Odors in buildings
In sum, before blaming drywall for building odors, be sure that the smells are not from another detectable source such as sewer gases or a failing hot water tank anode - see ODORS, Smells, Gases in buildings-Diagnosis & Cure for details and see SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors. - DF
The following tests are commonly used to evaluate the level of indoor contamination from Chinese drywall:
EMS lab provides a range of tests for the level of outgassing and probable hazard or building damage from Chinese Drywall, as do some other U.S. environmental testing laboratories.
Unfortunately the effective remedies for the presence of problematic outgassing Chinese Drywall in buildings are likely to be extensive and costly:
Advice from AIHA, the American Industrial Hygiene Association for Dealing with Corrosive Drywall, References & Citations
[Disclosure: the author, Daniel Friedman, is a professional member of AIHA. He does not offer field or laboratory services for CDW.]
Watch out: the indoor air "purifiers" and "deodorizers" sold by some vendors who specifically advertise regarding Chinese drywall odors are not the proper approach to dealing with this problem, treating the symptom rather than the cause, and ignoring corrosion and other damage caused by this product.
Also see FTC Consumer Alert, FTC NOTICE: Defective Imported Drywall: Don’t Get Nailed by Bogus Tests and Treatments December 2009.
Consumers are encouraged to report problems with their drywall, especially apparent or confirmed damage from Chinese drywall outgassing to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
From the US CPSC / HUD 28 January 2010 HUD and CPSC Issue Guidance on Identifying Problem Drywall in Homes
The US CPSC also provides a form for registering information about a drywall incident.
*This Document Relates to Germano, et al. v. Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd., et al., case no. 09-6687.*
From 2004 through 2006, the housing boom and rebuilding efforts necessitated by various hurricanes led to a shortage of construction materials, including drywall. As a result, drywall manufactured in China was brought into the United States and used in the construction and refurbishing of homes in coastal areas of the country, notably the Gulf Coast and East Coast.
Sometime after the installation of the Chinese drywall, homeowners began to complain of emissions of smelly gasses, the corrosion and blackening of metal wiring, surfaces, and objects, and the breaking down of appliances and electrical devices in their homes.
Many of these homeowners also began to complain of various physical afflictions believed to be caused by the Chinese drywall. Accordingly, these homeowners began to file suit in various state and federal courts against homebuilders, developers, installers, realtors, brokers, suppliers, importers, exporters, distributors, and manufacturers who were involved with the Chinese drywall. Because of the commonality of facts in the various cases, this litigation was designated as multidistrict litigation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. =A7 1407.
United States District Judge Fallon, of the Eastern District Court of Louisiana ruled on April 8, 2010 awarding all seven Plaintiff intervenor families monetary damages for their losses caused by the defendant Taishan in the total amount of $2,609,129.99.
Based upon the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, the Court found that scientific, economic, and practicality concerns dictate that the proper remediation for the Plaintiff-intervenors is to remove all drywall in their homes, all items which have suffered corrosion as a result of the Chinese drywall, and all items which will be materially damaged in the process of removal.
The court document specifies general scientific findings on Chinese drywall which distinguish it from typical, benign drywall as the following:
History & Properties of Gypsum & Drywall Wallboard
Drywall is a widely used construction material that is also known as gypsum board, wallboard, plasterboard, sheetrock, and gyproc. P2.0006-0003 (Cozen O’Connor, Chinese Drywall Litigation: Subrogation Whitepaper (2009)). A drywall panel is composed of a layer of hardened gypsum plaster sandwiched between two layers of paper liner. Id. Gypsum is a hydrated calcium sulfate, composed of two molecules of water (H2O) and one of calcium sulfate (CaSO4). Id.
The gypsum used to make drywall can be created both naturally and synthetically. Id. Naturally occurring gypsum is a deposit largely the result of the evaporation of water in ancient inland seas which contains large amounts of dissolved gypsum. P2.0051-001 (Treatment and Disposal of Gypsum Board Waste, Construction Dimension, February 1992 at 5).
is chemically identical to mineral gypsum, but the amount and types of trace materials and unreacted
sorbents found in the source material can vary among power plants and among mines from which
Synthetic gypsum is generally obtained in the final stage of industrial processes, where sulfuric acid is neutralized by a calcium salt; for example it is produced as a byproduct of coal combustion power plants. Id.; P2.0240.0014 (ASTM International report).
To make drywall from gypsum, first gypsum is crushed or ground up and heated to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit to remove approximately seventy-five percent (75%) of its water content in a process called calcining, thereafter becoming a fine white powder. P2.0006-0003 (Cozen O’Connor, Chinese Drywall Litigation: Subrogation Whitepaper (2009)); P2.0051-0001 (Treatment and Disposal of Gypsum Board Waste, Construction Dimensions, February 1992 at 5).
Second, the calcined gypsum is mixed with water, foam, and other additives to form a slurry which is fed between continuous sheets of paper on a continuous belt line. Id.
Third, as the board moves down the belt line, the calcined gypsum recrystalizes or rehydrates, reverting to its original gypsum state, and the paper sheets become firmly bonded to the rehydrated core. Id. Finally, the board is cut to length and conveyed through dryers to remove free moisture. Id.
Historically, gypsum was used as far back as 3700 B.C. by the Egyptians as a base to preserve the wall murals in the pyramids. P2.0051-0001(Treatment and Disposal of Gypsum Board Waste, Construction Dimension, February 1992 at 6); P2.0240-0022 to -0023 (ASTM International, Oct. 2009 at 9-10).
The Roman Empire used gypsum for interior purposes, such as the interior walls of Pompeii. Id.
There is little information of the use of gypsum plaster during the Middle Ages. Id. The modern science of gypsum began with the discoveries by Antoine Lavoisier outlined in his two papers on gypsum presented to the French Academy of Sciences in 1765 and 1766. P2.0240-0022 to -0023 (ASTM International, Oct. 2009 at 11). In the United States, the use of gypsum board started in the early 1950s and was driven by the following issues,
(1) avoiding the drying time of plaster which allowed earlier occupancy of buildings, and
(2) the lack of skilled plasterers in many locations. P2.0240-0026(ASTM International, Oct. 2009, pg. 13). Gypsum is fire resistant, thus making it a preferable material for drywall. P2.0051-0001 (Treatment and Disposal of Gypsum Board Waste, Construction Dimensions, February 1992 at 6).
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U.S. Gypsum also provides information about its use of synethetic gypsum as follows: