Contaminated Chinese Drywall Inspection

Contaminated Chinese Drywall Inspection: Protect Your Home with Realm Inspections


Amidst a wave of Chinese import scares, ranging from toxic toys to tainted pet food, reports of contaminated Chinese drywall have emerged across the American Southeast. Chinese companies use unrefined “fly ash,” a coal residue found in smokestacks of coal-fired power plants, in their manufacturing process. Fly ash contains strontium sulfide, a toxic substance commonly found in fireworks. In hot and humid environments, this can off-gas into hydrogen sulfide, carbon disulfide, and carbonyl sulfide, contaminating a home’s air supply.

The bulk of these incidents have been reported in Florida and other southern states, likely due to the high heat and humidity. Most affected homes were built between 2004 and 2007, especially after Hurricane Katrina when domestic building materials were scarce. An estimated 250,000 tons of drywall were imported from China during that period. Builders used this drywall to construct approximately 100,000 homes in the U.S., leading to severe health and property damage.

Health Effects of Contaminated Drywall

Although not life-threatening, exposure to high levels of airborne hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur compounds from contaminated drywall can cause:

  • Sore throat
  • Sinus irritation
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Headache
  • Dry or burning eyes
  • Respiratory infections

Inspection Tips from InterNACHI

There are no government or industry standards for inspecting contaminated drywall in homes. However, Realm Inspections, a trusted name in home inspection services, offers expert contaminated Chinese drywall inspections. Homeowners should be cautious of con artists claiming to be certified drywall inspectors. Here are some tips from InterNACHI to identify contaminated drywall:

  • A strong sulfur smell reminiscent of rotten eggs.
  • Exposed copper wiring appears dark and corroded. Silver jewelry and silverware may also corrode and discolor after months of exposure.
  • Inspectors can check labels on the back of the drywall linked to known contaminated manufacturers. Entering the attic and removing some insulation can help with this.
  • Drywall samples can be sent to a lab for sulfur level testing, which is the best but most expensive method.

Dealing with Contaminated Drywall

Contaminated Chinese drywall cannot be repaired. Affected homeowners have two options:

  1. Endure health issues and appliance failures due to corrosion.
  2. Replace the drywall entirely, costing tens of thousands of dollars.

This contamination further reduces home values in an already struggling real estate market. Some insurance companies refuse to cover drywall replacement, causing financial ruin for many. Class-action lawsuits have been filed against homebuilders, suppliers, and importers of contaminated Chinese drywall. Large manufacturers named include Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, Knauf Gips, and Taishan Gypsum.

The Florida Department of Health tested drywall from three Chinese manufacturers and a domestic sample, finding significant differences. The Chinese samples contained traces of strontium sulfide and emitted a sulfur odor when exposed to moisture and heat, unlike the American sample. The U.S. Consumer Safety Commission and other entities are performing similar tests. Despite these findings, there’s no scientific proof that Chinese drywall is solely responsible for the reported issues.

Regardless of its source, contamination is damaging property and health in the southern U.S. The media frequently attributes the blame to imported Chinese drywall containing corrosive sulfur compounds from Chinese coal-fired power plants. Homes affected by this contamination can suffer severe damage to metal parts of appliances and piping, leading to significant health issues. While no regulations have been issued, more home inspectors are becoming aware of the danger it poses.

Ensure your home’s safety with a comprehensive contaminated Chinese drywall inspection from Realm Inspections. Contact us today to protect your property and health.


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