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How Can Tens of Millions of Square Feet of House Be Recalled?

After hurricane Katrina there were shortages of various construction materials.  There was too much that needed to be done at one time.  One thing in short supply was drywall.  This immediate need inspired the importation of tens of millions of square feet of drywall.  No problem - so builders imported drywall.

It sat on barges at sea until it was approved.  Some say it absorbed moisture.  Some say it did not.  But it was approved and admitted and used in thousands of houses in Florida, Virginia and perhaps elsewhere - 2004, 2005 and 2006.  It turns out the drywall was bad stuff!  Really, really bad stuff!

One main component of drywall is gypsum.  Gypsum is the mineral used in many things in addition to drywall, like plaster of Paris and chalk.  It naturally contains other elements, like iron and sulfur.  This drywall apparently contains abnormal amounts of iron and sulfur.  As drywall gets wet and then dries, it emits gases, like iron and sulfur. 

These gases stink like rotten eggs. 

They quickly corrode copper, like AC coils, plumbing and electrical connections. 

And they cause health problems - eye, nose and throat irritation, respiratory difficulty, bleeding noses and, with enough exposure, even death. 

This drywall is affecting all the houses it was installed in in these very negative ways.  How can you live in such a house?  How could you ever sell such a house?

Can you imagine that disclosure statement?  Oh, and in addition to smelling so bad, the AC goes out every other year, the plumbing leaks continually (yes, that is mold over there) and the house might burn down tomorrow...

It is now the subject of a huge lawsuit.  Environmental Expert.com says 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. The possibility that the drywall is emitting hydrogen sulfide fumes is disturbing. And the amounts emitted!  Exposure to 50 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide for more than ten minutes can cause extreme irritation. Inhalation of 500 to 1,000 parts per million can cause unconsciousness and death through respiratory paralysis and asphyxiation, according to environmental experts.  Are the amounts of these gases emitted by this drywall coincidence, accident or on purpose?

It is the subject of news reports -->  http://www.foxnews.com/video-search/m/21792361/toxic_homes.htm

Oh, did I mention where this drywall comes from?

CHINA

And the beat goes on ...  That news report came out the day after my recent post on Chinese recalls.  Prescient?

How do you recall thousands of houses?

I think we need to recall China...

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 12 commentsJay Markanich • January 29 2009 05:34AM

Comments

Another great import item that passed the test only to fail. There really needs to be higher standards set by us and our government on imports.

Posted by Chip Jefferson (Gibbs Realty and Auction Company) over 9 years ago

Laura - I think we Americans assume that others produce things the way we would.  Not!  How does something like this get tested prior to installation?  It took time for these problems to manifest -- intentional?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Wouldn't you think there would be some industry standard for imports ?  And golly gee whiz how can we talk about unemployment in one sentence and shortages of materials that COULD be manufactured here with some overtime, extra hires, etc....and import more stuff on the other...Yup..I vote with you...recalling China and the Yahooooos that don't set standards would be a good thing !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 9 years ago

This is scary, and in my opinion only, criminal.  Those poor people.

Posted by Kris Wales, Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI (Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center) over 9 years ago

S&D and Kris - there are standards!  We have cooperation agreements, conformity agreements, standards agreements, import agreements - we have agreements out the you know what and guess what!  They are not honored!!  And by whom?  Standards do NOT matter to them.

Do you think McDonalds would intentionally export tainted beef to their many outlets in China?  No.  Actually they don't even have the chance - China will not allow importation of American beef as "substandard."

Do you think WalMart would intentionally export toys and MANY other products full of lead to their many outlets in China.  No.  Actually China will now allow importation of those American things as "unecessary."

The answer to both of those questions above is no anyway...

This stuff is imported here by "Americans" in our midst.  So-called American-Chinese companies.

http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/prhtml02/02196.html

That is one example, of many, many.  He was fined a mere $140K for importing three different banned and dangerous materials at three different times.  These were things that exactly mimicked safe American proucts already on the market.  The intent?  To mingle them in WITH these safe American products.  Why.....? 

And you can find his profile on LinkedIn...!!

The drywall could have been manufactured here and was being manufactured.  But they were stressed to the max and the material was needed right away.

I agree, it is criminal.  I think it is intentional...  these and other recalls are happening every day (see my previous post...). By accident?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, this sure sounds like a long term mess.  Sounds like a lot of additional revenue for American made Gypsum products for those houses:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Jay, Everyone wanted the houses done now!  They accused many of waiting because of some kind of hidden agenda.  The only outlet for materials quickly is import the stuff (substandard or not).  What happens when govt. takes on more than they are Qualified to chew.  Would you want anyone in our Congress to build your house or spec the materials.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 9 years ago

Charles - I am SO up for American stuff...!

Jack - no I do not!  And I don't want them to spec my health care, diet, personal protection, car design, bank and on and on ad nauseum...  I really like it when Congress goes on recess!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Thank you for posting this!  I happened upon the Fox News report earlier this week, right after reading your post on recalling China...I immediately thought of your post!  I was astounded at the damage that could be caused by DRYWALL!  I had no idea.

It just gets more outrageous every day.

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) over 9 years ago

Susan - I had five CPSC notices today - all China...  the beat goes on, right?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, It makes you really wonder about what is going on over there. I am sick to death of picking up products and seeing made in China.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

It would be fine with me if it was good stuff!  And most Americans do not realize the kinds of conditions that go on over there in production facilities.  I remember years ago about people complaining that some of Kathy Lee Gifford's stuff was being made in some Central American "sweat shop."  Those shops are typical and even better when compared to the conditions in China -- and elsewhere!

My big beef, James, is that there seems to be so much intentional harm attempted, and all that is outside our many agreements to try to effect standards.  They are not so incompetent to continue to try this over and over with so many different products.

My other beef is that there are few alternatives to the Chinese stuff!  Let me know, for example, where to buy a light bulb not made there.  And those squiggly light bulbs they are jamming down our throats are bad, bad, bad.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

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