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Someone sent us this rather disturbing article about drywall problems that affect hundreds of homes here in the US.  We figured it was another hyped-up “bacteria among you” type thing, but as it turns out it’s not.

Real estate agent Felix Martinez thought he’d found his dream house when he bought the 3,500-square-foot beauty in Homestead, Fla., two years ago.

Then, he says, his large-screen TV mysteriously failed. Next, the air conditioner went. His bath towels smelled like rotten eggs. Visitors noted an odor in the house. Martinez says he’s suffered new sinus problems and sleep apnea. His wife and son sneeze a lot.

The walls in the home, a recently filed class-action lawsuit alleges, were built with the same kind of Chinese-made drywall that tests have shown emit sulfur gases that corrode copper coils and electrical and plumbing components.

The article goes on to explain possible causes, like extra minerals in the source mines where the gypsum was pulled from.  The ongoing investigation involves such matters as legal levels of sulfur out-gassing.

We’re pretty sure this is going to be a mess as far as legality and such, and we feel for those homeowners, as there’s a very slim chance, if any, that they’ll ever be on the upside of the issue.

Drywall from China blamed for problems in homes [USA Today]


19 Responses to Bad Chinese Drywall

  1. Jim German says:

    Everything from China is EVIL!

  2. HEHE, the Chinese strike again. Maybe this is their evil plan to take over the US. 🙂

  3. Barri says:

    Take over the US with stinky drywall and sub quality products lol

  4. Ken says:

    That’s what happens when you buy that CHEAP and INFERIOR shit from China.The builder is just as much to blame as the Chinks.Buy American

  5. aaron says:

    dude, theres no call for that.

  6. Scott says:

    The answer to this sort of problem seems straight forward: products must be implicitly be suitable for their stated purpose. Using any maker’s drywall should not damage your house. Eating food should not poison you. Taking medicine shouldn’t make you sick. You get the idea.

    When products are found not to be suitable–and this should be found via inspection at the port of entry, not via end-user testing–then the maker (in the case of China, the government owns all or part of almost everything)–pays for the testing, the cost of shipping the goods to this country, returning the goods to the maker, and safe verified disposal. Don’t want to meet that standard? Don’t look to import to this country.

    Stated a bit differently, imported and domestic goods must meet the same standards for suitability of purpose, with special emphasis on end-user health and safety.

    This is protectionist only in the sense that it makes all manufacturers liable if their products–when used properly–do (or would do) harm. I am not arguing for fair wages, safe working conditions, etc. That is a different issue.

    Drywall shouldn’t be used as a vehicle to dispose of toxic materials. When it is, more than hand waving and hollow assurances that the problem has been resolved needs to be done. The price for doing such things needs to be so high that it makes sense to be very sure it simply does not happen.

  7. bender says:

    I agree with Scott… Sure the Chinese are to blame (with their shady manufacturers and corrupt government), but as much to blame are the contractors who would use such a cheap, inferior material. It’s like many things in life: if you pay for crap, you get crap.

    If only the poor guy had some warning…

  8. slapinem says:

    I could not agree more scott,

    The other thing is a while back on i think it was deconstructed they went to one of the duke energy clean coal electric plants and come to find out the by product of the exhaust cleaner is pure gypsum, the drywall manufacturer down the road (and for the life of me i can’t remember witch drywall company it was) came and picked up the gypsum. The people at the drywall plant said the material from the coal plant was actually better than the mined gypsum because it was pure gypsum and the mined gypsum would usually contain some sand or dirt,and now with this info about sulfur gas coming out of chinese made drywall,not only are we helping secure U.S. jobs and helping environmental issues by buying american we may just be saving a life or two.

  9. Zathrus says:

    There was an article on JLC Online about this (http://www.jlconline.com/cgi-bin/jlconline.storefront/EN/UserTemplate/82?c=fc190c80b810ac72cc8a09df31b6614a) — the drywall was imported in 2006/7 because there was a shortage due to Katrina and Wilma. It was used largely in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

    In 2006/7 the demand for drywall peaked at 65.7 BILLION sq ft. Of that, less than 300M sq ft was imported from China (that’s less than 0.5%), and of that only about 20% was imported from KPT, who made the problem drywall.

    So, yeah, we’re talking about one tenth of one percent of the drywall used in just two years. This stuff doesn’t get imported normally because it’s simply not cost effective to do so.

  10. Eion says:

    No idea where all the China-bashing on here comes from. It stands to reason that China is the largest producer of cheap crap, since it’s the largest producer of everything, and being made in the USA is no guarantee of quality.

    As to shady manufacturers, the company at the center of this scandal is Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, which is one of several Chinese subsidiaries of Knauf, a multinational company based in Germany. As far as I can tell (without paying to order the company records), it’s a wholly foreign-owned enterprise. That’s right folks, it’s not a state-owned enterprise, it doesn’t appear to be part-owned by any Chinese people or companies, and senior management seems to be made up largely of westerners.

    I’m not saying that Chinese product safety or quality control standards are up to scratch – although the laws are just about there, enforcement is sorely lacking – but I don’t think it’s really fair to blame China for what are basically a foreign company’s failings.

  11. Snork says:

    Just accept that the chinese will become amearica’s overlords. They own a huge chunk of the debt, so if we don’t play ball with them and buy their stuff they’ll send over a few hundred million guys to break legs and bust the windshield of your cars for not paying up.

  12. MeasureOnceCutTwice says:

    I live in China and run a factory that is wholly owned by a NJ-based company.
    We make very high quality electronic systems – aerospace, telecom, medical, etc. We have to take great care to prevent counterfeit components from getting into our products. It’s difficult, but we manage to do it.
    Not all companies here are so careful – sometimes it’s from ignorance, sometimes it’s malicious or basic greed. (Baby milk scandal, etc.)
    The bottom line is really good stuff can come out of China, but it takes work to ensure you get what you want.
    Side note: It is common practice for people who buy new homes here to decorate them, and then let them sit for up to a year with the windows open to let the chemicals dissipate before moving in.

  13. Joe says:

    “The bottom line is really good stuff can come out of China, but it takes work to ensure you get what you want.
    Side note: It is common practice for people who buy new homes here to decorate them, and then let them sit for up to a year with the windows open to let the chemicals dissipate before moving in.”

    Sadly, we have absolutely no way of telling whether were getting sh** or shinola!

    I’ll stick with what I know when it comes to building products, they’re kind of difficult to replace.

  14. russ says:

    People in the US can’t leave the windows open for a year due to cost, weather, crackheads, vandals, people stealing copper wiring and other things. That’s a poor excuse. It’s a miniature Love Canal.

    If good things can come out of China situations like this surely don’t support it.

  15. KMR says:

    The Chinese are not to blame for this, the person that contracted with the Chinese firm to produce the items and didn’t carry out any quality controls is to blame.

    We have parts made in Asia (mostly Thailand, India and China) and have yet to have an issue with quality, because make it known quality is one of our goals. The pieces won’t be accepted unless the samples and final products meet our specifications.

    Greedy firms that exploit the “cheap” situation in China to bring goods into the USA at the lowest possible cost, without regard for quality, are the guys to blame. The Chinese will make good stuff – if you tell them to, and hold them to it.

  16. Rick hollister says:

    I think it is a little premature to put a number on this event. We have not yet agreed on the analytical testing yet. We have not even determined the remedial scope or protocols to clean this mess up. Good luck getting any money out of the Chinese companies. Then there are the insurance companies some of the contractors and distributors are not even covered for this so the insurance companies will say. We do not know what long term damage to the health or the property is going to be. Too many questions still unanswered. I have met with some of the top experts in the IAQA field and from around the country in the last month and as an environmental investigator and consultant for 15 years, I think we have a long road ahead of us. Beware of guarantee solution to fixing the problem i.e. fogs, foam, sprays hell we don’t even know if this stuff has embedded into the wooden substrates in the wall. We have been getting calls from Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana and Mississippi. We now have evidence of possible fraud we can probable link back to the manufacture or distributors. We would be interested in hearing from people experiencing Chinese Sheetrock problems every case seems to have different details and precursors. We are putting a team of experts together to tackle the long term effects and to opine on the scope and protocols to properly remediate the homes and all the effected personal property.
    Rick Hollister CEI, CMR, CLI
    Environmental Administrators, Inc
    Tallahassee, Fl.

  17. ted says:

    i had a similar problem in my vacation home in tn. the home seemed to emite a sulfur smell. it was not mold ect. every time we visited the home and stayed just a few days my entire family had headaces, nose, throat, eyes burning ect and general feeling of blah. i was so disapointed about it that i was thinking about abandoning my dearm of owning a home in tn. but one day while in deep thought about this situation i belive i found a fairly simpe solution it took about a week. i had a freind and his family stay in home for few days and no effects. i also took my family and no effects thank
    God. i belive i fixed the problem. i am thinking about contacting a insurance company about this solution. yes we may want to re-think the china thing. their products seem to be harming us.

  18. Will says:

    Scott mentioned “When products are found not to be suitable–and this should be found via inspection at the port of entry”. The problem with that in this case is there has never been any regulations on the content of drywall. Also, how can you test for every possibility? Even so, we still have to find a way to prevent this kind of stuff from entering the country. Probably the best way to do that is to punish the manufacturers as an abject lesson to future manufacturers who will be wary of their reputation and their pocketbooks.

    On another note. I am working on an article on Chinese drywall and have one item I cannot find an answer to. Does anyone know if some of this drywall was sold retail at lumber yards, etc. or was it all sold to big contractors? Please shoot me an email if you find a reference. I have been all over the web looking for an answer. will@indepthinfo.com

    Cordially, Will

  19. t lucs says:

    The cold fact is that everyone in the supply chain knew, it did not travel from china get unloaded and smell of a bed of roses when it was installed. I did not just get of the boat from China. As an owner of one of these homes I can attest that the corrosion of copper and contamination to the dwelling is second to none. If one looks deep enough so many people looked the other way. Upon purchasing a brand new home(never lived in) in the fall of 2008 and the C.O. was given by the town in fall of 2007 I would like to tell you evidence of contmination was present. If it wasn”t for greed on part of the bank,realtor,I would never have been caught in this mess. Even with a home inspection company that said everything was good. So when you consider purchase of a home please know how to find Chinese Drywall or Contaminated Drywall because you are on you own. By the way don’t think that all the cases have been reported when loss is privelant greed is ever popular.

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