Between 2004 and 2007, thousands of homes throughout the country were built with Chinese drywall after a construction boom and several hurricanes led to a shortage in domestic drywall. This drywall is now believed to be defective, and has been found to cause strong sulfur odors, property damage, and certain health symptoms. Some sources estimate that more than 500 million pounds of potentially defective Chinese drywall entered America during this period.
Many people living in new Florida homes built with Chinese drywall have also experienced health problems as a result of the fumes in their homes. A toxicologist for the state of Florida recently told one newspaper that the odor causes people to experience mild and moderate respiratory irritation that clears up when they leave the homes. Other residents have reported that they are experiencing headaches that also go away when they leave their houses. Other symptoms being reported included irritated eyes, nose bleeds, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, and symptoms similar to bronchitis and asthma.
Drywall is made from gypsum, which naturally contains sulfur compounds. If the drywall was exposed to humidity at sea, the process of evaporation that occurs as the drywall dries could be responsible for the odors coming from the material. According to a report on Environmental Expert.com, the problems appear to be related to the presence of iron disulfide (FeS2 pyrite) in the material. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbonyl sulfide, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and carbon disulfide (CS2) are also suspected as culprits, the Web site said.
What should I do if my home has problem drwall?
- Report the problem drywall to CPSC.
- If your home has been confirmed to contain problem drywall, as outlined in our identification guidance, it can be remediated. CPSC and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) remediation guidance calls for replacement of all: problem drywall; smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms; electrical distribution components, including receptacles, switches and circuit breakers, but not necessarily wiring; and fusible-type fire sprinkler heads. See our remediation guidance for more details.
- Consider contacting your homebuilder and insurance company for assistance.
- Consider contacting the IRS for possible tax relief.
- Consider contacting your local property taxing authority for possible tax relief.
- Check with your lender. Federal Housing Administration-approved mortgage lenders may offer forbearance for borrowers confronted with the sudden effects of damaging drywall in their homes.
Some homeowners have pursued relief through private lawsuits. (The CPSC is not a party to these lawsuits and does not provide information on whether or not this is appropriate to your circumstance).