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What Is Chinese Drywall, is it Toxic, How Can I Tell?


Published in Defective Products on February 12, 2017.

If you had drywall installed in your home in America between 2001 and 2009, it is possible that your home contains harmful contaminants. As of 2015, more than 4,000 homeowners have reported health problems related to drywall imported from China during this time period. Chinese drywall installed especially in 2006–2007 may contain high levels of sulfur, causing myriad health problems and property damage.

Identifying Chinese Drywall in Your Home

Too much sulfur in drywall may be responsible for sore throat, coughing, asthma, eye irritation, sinus infections, difficulty breathing, bloody or runny nose, and recurrent headaches. It can also cause a rotten egg smell in homes, blackened or corroded metal pipes, and household appliance failure. To determine if you have Chinese drywall in your home, use the Consumer Product Safety Commission test. Here is what to do:

  1. Conduct a visual inspection. A visual inspection of Chinese drywall will show the blackening and/or corrosion of copper electrical wiring and air conditioning evaporator coils. The date of installation should be between 2001 and 2009. Hire a professional for this service.
  2. Check for corroborating conditions. Since many factors can cause metal corrosion in a home, a homeowner needs corroborating evidence to definitively point to contaminated Chinese drywall. Further evidence includes copper sulfide or sulfur in the home, drywall marked as imported from China, high levels of strontium and/or sulfur in the drywall core, elevated levels of certain sulfides and disulfides during drywall tests, and corrosion of copper when placed in a test chamber with samples of the drywall.
  3. Add up your conditions. To identify problem drywall, an investigation must have enough pieces of evidence based on the year of the drywall’s installation. If installed between 2005 and 2009, at least two of the corroborating conditions must be present. Installations between 2001 and 2004 need at least four corroborating conditions.

You may need professional help and outside lab testing to determine the presence of dangerous Chinese drywall in your home. Keep in mind that not all drywall imported from China contains dangerous contaminants. Hire a professional to inspect your drywall with the proper safety precautions and tools. If you do have problem drywall, consider moving out of your home until you remedy the issue.

What to Do If Chinese Drywall Caused Injury or Damages

If your home does have problem drywall, you may face hefty remediation costs, such as the removal of contaminated drywall and the purchase and installation of new drywall. The drywall may have damaged your electronics, appliances, and air conditioning system, including television sets, refrigerators, and dishwashers. The drywall may decrease your home’s value. You may also face expenses such as travel, hotels, and childcare if you had to evacuate your home due to problem drywall. All of this is not to mention the personal and financial expenses of injuries.

If you suffer from certain health conditions because of Chinese drywall in your home, you may have grounds to join a class action lawsuit in Georgia. The contaminated drywall breaks several different laws, relating to the legal theories of negligence, product liability, breach of warranty, and fraud. In a class action lawsuit, you may be able to sue the drywall manufacturer, importer, builders, or installers. Consider reporting the issue to your homeowner’s insurance company, as courts have not yet ruled on whether insurers are liable for contaminated drywall.

Legal proceedings regarding harmful Chinese drywall are still in their early stages. Cases are still developing, and knowledge about this issue is still limited. If you believe you have contaminated drywall, alert the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Then, contact an attorney to find out the status of the law in your region, to handle insurance issues, and to learn your potential legal remedies for injuries and damages.