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Drywall is typically a gypsum-based plaster that is kiln-dried between two thick sheets of paper, allowing it to form flat and smooth. Gypsum is safe and easy to work with, making it an ideal construction material. Typically, American manufacturers produce enough drywall to sate the country’s demand. Unfortunately, during the construction boom of the early and mid-aughts — as well as the increased demand for drywall after Hurricane Katrina — and Chinese drywall was imported to more than 20 states and built into more than 100,000 homes.
Soon after construction, homeowners in residences where Chinese drywall was installed began complaining of odd smells as well as corroded metal. Often, homes with Chinese drywall suffer from plumbing, electrical and HVAC issues, and homeowners might notice silver and copper jewelry tarnishing quickly. Additionally, many residents of households with Chinese drywall suffer from respiratory illnesses, like asthma and chronic coughing as well as chronic headaches and sinus issues.
Soon enough, investigations revealed that the drywall off-gases several volatile chemicals, including carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide and hydrogen sulfide. Laboratory tests determined that the foreign drywall contains a number of additional strange components, including a higher level of pyrite, fly ash and a bacteria known as Acidithiobacillus ferroxidans. Each of these components can release excess sulfur, causing the above-listed problems.
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