Chinese Drywall Remediation Advice
Although Chinese drywall has turned up in other states, Florida is ground zero for tainted drywall complaints. Homeowners in Florida, Louisiana, and Virginia say the drywall in their homes, produced in China, smells awful and corrodes electronics, HVAC systems, and home wiring.
Florida's Senator Bill Nelson and Louisiana's Senator Mary Landrieu have sponsored a bill called the "Dry Wall Safety Act". This bill would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission & the EPA to work with Federal Testing Labs to determine if the gasses pose a hazard to homeowners.
Florida's Governor Charlie Crist has requested that the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention help in developing testing for homes affected by the tainted drywall.
The Chinese Drywall Complaint Center is saying, "we fear we have only identified 1 in 25 homes in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and the metro areas of Houston, and Austin, Texas, that contain 2005-2006 Knauf Tianjin Chinese drywall."
In April of 2010 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission came out with a report suggesting that strontium testing should be the preferred method of determining whether Chinese drywall was a problem within ones home. Now, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Task Force says homeowners who want to know if their home has defective Chinese drywall should check for elemental sulfur rather than strontium.
Their position is that high levels of strontium are not an effective way to prove the drywall in your home is corrosive, but they can be a clue that a particular piece of drywall needs further testing.
Elemental (orthorhombic) sulfur is the ingredient most directly correlated with the reports of problem drywall in a home. “Although the results of such testing are not as quickly available as the strontium screening, testing for elemental sulfur is commercially available and is a more accurate method which provides greater assurances to interested parties,” the task force said.
The Chinese drywall contains a naturally occurring allotrope of elemental sulfur— orthorhombic cyclooctasulfur (S8). Two techniques to analyze for S8 in drywall are:
- GC/ECD Test (Gas Chromatography/Electron Capture Detection)
- GC/MS Test (Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry)
The GC/ECD test is a robust, low-cost option that allows for the screening of a large volume of drywall samples quickly for S8. Because drywall used in home construction can be from mixed sources, submission of multiple samples from one suspect home may be done to reduce the risk of false negative results. Roughly 5g (approximately 2”x2”) of bulk drywall material is all that is required for the GC/ECD analysis. Results are reported in units of mg/kg. A positive result above 10 mg/kg is indicative of corrosive drywall, according to the Florida Department of Health’s Case Definition (12-18-09) for Drywall Associated Corrosion in Residences.
The GC/MS test may be performed as confirmation of the GC/ECD test and/or for projects where test results may be used in a court of law. Both the GC/ECD and the GC/MS tests offer comparable sensitivity for elemental sulfur. Several leading researchers, including research & development staff at Columbia Analytical’s Simi Valley laboratory, have concluded that elemental sulfur is a unique and reliable marker compound for corrosive drywall. These results support the claim that elemental sulfur (S8) is a unique and reliable indicator of corrosive drywall.
Many firms are attempting different remediation/mitigation strategies to deal with Chinese drywall, and certainly there is a good deal of research in this area. At this time, The Department of Health (DOH) is not currently aware of any proven and effective treatment method other than removal and replacement of the suspected or known source material. Claims of treatment involving ozone, coatings, and air cleaners should be scrutinized for evidence of proven effectiveness. The Office of the Attorney General of Florida recently posted a consumer alert on this subject. The Department of Health (DOH) recommends against the use of ozone generators in occupied spaces, since ozone is a highly reactive and irritating molecule and is considered hazardous to people and pets. See US Environmental Protection Agency report "Ozone Generators That Are Sold as Air Cleaners".
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (see Drywall Information Center) has received nearly 3,300 reports from 37 states and experts estimate it costs about $100,000 to pull out bad drywall and replace corroded electrical wiring and appliances in an average-sized home. Consulting firm Towers Watson has estimated U.S. drywall damages of $15 billion to $25 billion.
The Florida Association of Realtor (FAR) is implementing a "Chinese Drywall Addendum for Purchase" and will be modifying the Seller's Disclosures to include language specific to the disclosure of sellers knowledge of defective drywall.
If you are located in South Florida, and are looking for a qualified remediation contractor who will implement a proven remediation protocol in the removal and replacement of contaminated drywall in your home, give us a call.
Whether you are a Treasure Coast area property manager, commercial general contractor, or home owner, One Call Properties Service will provide quality work, timely service, and reasonable pricing. We pride ourselves on the high standards we have established and maintained as a Treasure Coast area contractor. We will gladly provide references if you are considering us for your next damage restoration project.
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