Chinese drywall is a defective drywall that emits sulfur gas in unusual amounts. Despite its name, the problem can come from drywall produced in any country including the United States. The United States government calls such drywall “Defective Corrosive Drywall” for the gas’s effect on metal fixtures within a building. The EPA has also confirmed many negative health conditions reported by occupants of buildings with Chinese drywall.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
In the early to mid 2000s, demand for building materials grew and caused a shortage of domestic supply. The housing boom was compounded by several major natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, at which time the domestic supply of drywall was depleted and distributors looked for alternative sources. In 41 states, including Florida, Louisiana, California, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Washington, distributors sourced drywall from China. The use of Chinese drywall was not for price or quality reasons, but due a lack of supply.
Contaminated drywall may corrode copper HVAC coils, refrigerator coils, mirrors, silver jewelry and utensils, and copper ground wires. The drywall may emit an odor and may cause health effects. Because it is sensitive to heat and humidity, a problem may not be discovered until the hottest time of year. As few as three sheets of Chinese drywall in a building is enough to require remediation.