I’d like a Number 3, extras Won-Tons and hold the sulphur!

17 Jul

Hi Ya Campers!

As you know, we’re still fighting City Hall, so we can build a house out of recycled materials. No! I’m not talking about cardboard appliance boxes, old car parts, and driftwood. But, I might as well be. The very idea that you can build a home out of 40′ Shipping Containers makes the local building authorities um… er… difficult.

Now, I know that most of you are thinking that I should just give up, and give in to “conventional wisdom…” but, I don’t swing that way. It’s 2009, not 1809. I watch Cable TV! I know “stuff!” And, I’m damned sure gonna use all that Grey Matter to do something for my family, in spite of those who wish I’d just go ahead and admit failure, and crawl back into the swamp. Not gonna happen.

It’s been a few years since the Hurricanes (Ivan and Katrina) knocked the hell outta the Gulf Coast. And some neighborhoods are starting to recover, finally.

Still, a drive through town will still reveal scars that haven’t healed, but who’d have thought that the “healing” would cause new wounds to fester… Oy!!

Of course, I’m talking about all the people who are being forced to tear out their “repaired and rebuilt” homes, because of shoddy and even dangerous materials.

Danger Warning

And, this time you can’t blame the contractors! It’s the Chinese! Just when you thought it was safe to order Mu-Shu again… 🙂

I have nothing against the Chinese people. I’m not big on Chinese Government, and I’m starting to get real leery of Chinese manufactured goods (we’ve thrown away Joshua’s new toys that actually had lead paint in them), but the Chinese people are pretty cool for the most part. Take Lucy Liu, for example…  Ronin like Lucy Liu…lucy_liu

Okay, I’m a pig. But… I’m a SMART pig. Get over it! 🙂

Where we live, here in Mississippi, it seems that as the heat of summer comes on, the reports of odors, respiratory complaints and corrosion are surfacing.  Now you’d think that was normal, because this part of the woods is filled with crusty, cantankerous old bastards that have been alive since the Civil War. Just ask ’em… boy, will you get an earful! 🙂

But, it’s not the “cranks” this time. It’s Ma and Pa Normal (okay… okay… “nearly-normal”), in their newly rebuilt Bayou Bunkers! After home inspections, it’s clear that it’s the drywall that contractors used to rebuild America’s home, that’s the culprit.

The bulk of these incidents have been reported in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and other southern states, likely due to the high levels of heat and humidity in that region. Most of the affected homes were built during the housing boom between 2004 and 2007, especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when domestic building materials were in short supply. An estimated 250,000 tons of drywall were imported from China during that time period because it was cheap and plentiful. This material was used in the construction of approximately 100,000 homes in the United States, and many believe this has lead to serious health and property damage.

It’s not like you can really do without the stuff. I mean, would you want to look at THIS every day? I think not!

Although not believed to be life- threatening, exposure to high levels of airborne hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur compounds from contaminated drywall can result in the following physical ailments:

  • sore throat;
  • sinus irritation;
  • coughing;
  • wheezing;
  • headache;
  • dry or burning eyes; and/or
  • respiratory infections.

But how could this happen? Isn’t drywall production regulated? Don’t they do inspections?

Well, they do HERE in America. But, a LOT of drywall from China came in during this reconstruction frenzy, and it turns out that it was bad. Evidently, some Chinese drywall didn’t get “the good eyeballing” required. Drywall from China used in American homes may have been caused by the failure to remove sulfur and other contaminants from synthetic gypsum, some Chinese experts in building materials say.

All over America, people are complaining to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, reporting odors, health symptoms and corrosion problems they blame on imported Chinese drywall.

The complaints report that the homes and apartments smell like “rotten eggs” and the wiring, metals, and even appliances in the homes are corroding!  U.S. and local officials are still trying to assess the possible health and safety risks.

What IS “drywall?”

SheetrockAlso known as wallboard or sheetrock, drywall is a layer of gypsum pressed between two sheets of paper used to construct walls and ceilings in houses. It comes in varying thicknesses, and it comes with paper, without paper, mold retardant, you name it…

In fact, almost every home, apartment, or commercial building you go into will be full of the stuff!

drywallMost drywall used here in the States is American-made, but shortages at the peak of the housing boom in recent years spurred massive imports of the building material from China.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, estimated in a recent interview that over 100,000 American homes may have problems with Chinese drywall. Some builders are having to gut recently built homes and replace the drywall. And, that gets expensive. Drywall is the skin that everything in your house hangs off of.

We’ve already determined that drywall comes from gypsum. But, where does gypsum come from?

The gypsum in drywall typically comes from mines. In recent years, drywall has been made of gypsum created from a chemical process using lime or limestone and gas from coal-fired power plants. This process involves the removal of sulfur and other contaminants found in power-plant smokestacks.

There’s lots of finger-pointing about how the drywall “went wrong,” and according to sources, there may be no “single cause.” One manufacturer in China points to mined gypsum as the likely culprit. But others say that flawed “desulfurization” methods can leave impurities in the “synthetic” gypsum produced as part of making power.

If your home has recently been renovated, and you have itchy eyes and skin, runny noses, nosebleeds, headaches and asthma attacks, among other things, you may have Chinese drywall in your house.

  • A manufacturer’s label on the back of the drywall can be used to link it with manufacturers that are known to have used contaminated materials. One way to look for this is to enter the attic and remove some of the insulation.
  • Drywall samples can be sent to a lab to be tested for dangerous levels of sulfur. This is the best testing method but also the most expensive.

Contaminated Chinese drywall cannot be repaired. Affected homeowners are being forced to either suffer bad health and failing appliances due to wire corrosion or replace the drywall entirely, a procedure which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. This contamination further reduces home values in a real estate environment already plagued by crisis.

Some insurance companies are refusing to pay for drywall replacement and many of their clients are facing financial ruin.

Class-action lawsuits have been filed against homebuilders, suppliers, and importers of contaminated Chinese drywall.

Some large manufacturers named in these lawsuits are Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, Knauf Gips, and Taishan Gypsum.

You owe it to yourself to find out. The life you save, may be your own.


Okay, I’m asking you to get involved.

If I’ve helped you, informed you, educated you, or just entertained you… consider donating a few bucks to the blog, to help us survive and build. Our family needs a home. Our situation is dire. And yes, I’m begging…

I’m not going to waste bandwidth plastering pictures up of my wife in her sickbed… or my little 2 year old son. I’ve written about the circumstances here, already. And… if  you’ve been reading the blog, you already know how cute he is. He’s our source of JOY.

Help us keep moving forward. We’re running out of time.

The Renaissance RoninNow, if your kitchen smells like rotten eggs… it’s time to clean out the refrigerator…

4 Responses to “I’d like a Number 3, extras Won-Tons and hold the sulphur!”

  1. jason hobbs August 1, 2009 at 1:52 am #

    A great Chinese Drywall testing kit is available at http://www.ChineseDrywallTesterKit.com

  2. foundation repair dallas September 2, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    It’s definitely difficult to forecast the end of the bubble. I’ve a friend who says that it’s probably not a bubble since he thinks demand would pick up when young adults really begin to move out to look for homes of their own. I wasn’t aware there was a state financial agency which routinely bails out its banks regularly.

  3. Dr. Abramson November 3, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    According to the CDC, the home test kits promoted by blog spammers don’t work, and pose a threat to the health of the user due to the use of mercury and arsenic compounds in the kit.

    Before you endanger your family, do a google search first. In one case, a two year old was hospitalized after his family left the kit on a shelf in his room.

    Don’t use the kits!

    Dr. Abe

    • renaissanceronin November 3, 2009 at 5:56 pm #

      Okay Campers,

      When a doc from the CDC takes time out of his busy day to stop by HERE to tell you that you’d better “check yourself,” you’d better listen! So, use every avenue at your disposal to insure that the test you’re using isn’t as hazardous (or maybe even more hazardous) as the condition that you’re trying to test for!

      Thanks, Doc! 🙂

Comments are closed.