The problem with Chinese drywall is that it creates a corrosive and potential hazardous indoor environment.
Strontium sulfide, present in Chinese drywall, combines with latent humidity in the air to create hydrogen sulfide, a highly corrosive gas according the OSHA. This corrosive gas reeks havoc on nearly every metal component in a home, ruining electronics and appliances. In addition, this corrosion attacks copper wiring, drastically increasing the risk of electrical fires.
Most significantly, the gases produced have been linked to various adverse health effects. The Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has identified that low level hydrogen sulfide can cause irritation to lungs, eyes, and nose and throat. In addition, it can cause difficulty breathing in asthmatics. Some reports indicate that Chinese drywall also emits carbon disulfide. The ATSDR has acknowledged that carbon disulfide can cause headaches, tiredness, trouble sleeping, as well as various nervous disorders.
Chinese drywall is a developing problem. The drywall, imported sometime from 2000 and 2008, emits gases that cause severe corrosion. These gases have been unofficially linked to adverse health effects including headaches, sinus infections, coughing, itching, eye and throat irritation.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission has confirmed a link between this material and the corrosion that has occurred. Many homes have reported air conditionings, appliances, and electronics that are failing very quickly. Sulfide based gases combine with airborne humidity and cause significant issues. The results is thick black corrosion. This corrosion seems to affect copper most significantly. Copper, one of the most commonly used metals in residential construction, is typically used in plumbing and electrical applications.
Chinese drywall victims are not limited to those homes that contain Chinese drywall. In a real estate market that has been generally depressed for the last three years or so, Chinese drywall adds to the litany of problems that homeowners have to overcome in order to sell their home.
The fear and stigma associated with Chinese drywall extends to entire neighborhoods and from those neighborhoods to other homes built by the same builder. For example, a home in a neighborhood is confirmed to contain Chinese drywall. Potential buyers are so scared that other homes in the neighborhood may contain Chinese drywall that they avoid the entire area. The knowledge within the real estate community is relatively wide spread. The fact that most potential buyers are avoiding the entire neighborhood depresses the price of not only the home or homes that do, in fact, contain Chinese drywall, but also the neighboring homes.
Similarly, potential buyers are avoiding homes built by any builder who has confirmed the use of Chinese drywall. The effect of this buyer fear and concern is significant and impacts more than 100 times as many homes as actually contain Chinese drywall.
Although several companies are offering tests, most of these are simple visual inspection for symptoms. Similar to a doctor asking if you are coughing and sneezing, these inspections are not adequate for most purposes. Everyone knows that a true physical involves checking temperature, taking blood pressure measurements, and sampling blood for laboratory tests. Potential buyers are not comforted by a Chinese drywall test that the only checks for the symptoms of Chinese drywall. Just because a home does not show symptoms, one cannot guarantee that the home is free of Chinese drywall.
When considering a purchase as significant as a new home, buyers want a guarantee.
No official protocol has been released for testing Chinese drywall. Therein lies the primary issue. Many homes show no symptoms of Chinese drywall, but there has been no Chinese drywall test with certified results.
Some companies have Errors and Omissions insurance that covers their liability. Homeowners should understand that Errors and Omissions insurance does not cover the entirety of the home. Rather, it covers only the areas that were sampled. Many Chinese drywall tests have identified that homes were built only partially with Chinese drywall. Chinese drywall tests that offer 25 samples do not even approach a full sampling of a home which, on average, contains upwards of 150 separate pieces of drywall.
In an effort to alleviate the fear and stigma associated with Chinese drywall, Certified Chinese Drywall Testing has developed the only underwritten and insurable Chinese drywall test available. This Chinese drywall test is an exhaustive protocol that involves comprehensive sample collection and testing. Because this Chinese drywall test is so complete in its scope, this protocol makes it possible to obtain insurance specifically for Chinese drywall. Unlike other insurance, this insurance covers the entire home and offers protection up to the entire market value of the home. These policies are also assignable to new buyers.
This same process and insurance can be used to alleviate concern on the part of homeowner's insurance companies and lenders. This defect is not covered by any homeowners insurance policies. Because homes that are affected are dramatically more likely to have house fires, some homeowners insurance companies are dropping or not renewing any policies for homes that are affected. In addition, some of these insurance companies are proactively dropping or not renewing policies for homes that were built by the same builder as others that are confirmed to have this issue. Similarly, homes in neighborhood that are known to be affected are being issued non-renew notices.
Lenders have begun to hear about this concern and are also enacting restrictions. Some reports indicate that lenders are not willing to refinance homes with Chinese drywall. Some experts expect that these same lenders will not issue new mortgages on homes that could potentially be affected without an insurable test.
Initial Chinese drywall studies were completed during cooler and less humid months. Similar testing completed in higher heat and humidity revealed drastically different results, showing much higher levels of carbon disulfide.
The interaction between Chinese drywall and humidity has played a significant role as the issue has unfolded. The first cases were identified in Florida and the bulk of the cases of Chinese drywall still center around Florida. Other Chinese drywall hot spots include Mississippi, Louisiana, and coastal Virginia. Each of these areas are exposed to higher levels of heat and humidity than the majority of the country. Recently, a report has surfaced that a large residential development in the American Southwest has Chinese drywall. The corrosion that is typically of Chinese drywall was not evident.
Although the property damage was not present, the adverse health effects were very evident. Home owners in this development have been reporting the health issues for quite some time.
Although the bulk of the Chinese drywall cases have been in the Southeast, many experts predict that the Chinese drywall issue will spread slowly across the country as the drywall is slowly exposed to humidity.
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Article Added on Tuesday, August 16, 2011
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