Report Examines Health Implications of Chemical Emissions from Chinese-Made Drywall

Published May 7, 2014

Residents who were exposed to sulfur compounds emitted by drywall manufactured in China between 2005 and 2006 may have experienced adverse health effects associated with their exposure, according to a report released on Friday by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

The report, “Health Consultation: Possible Health Implications from Exposure to Sulfur Gases Emitted from Chinese-Manufactured Drywall,” describes the laboratory tests and modeling that researchers used to estimate levels of sulfur compounds in indoor air of homes built with “problem drywall.”

Researchers measured chemical emission rates from 30 drywall samples and found that estimated concentrations of sulfur compounds emitted from the drywall samples manufactured in China in 2005 and 2006 were a public health concern at the time of testing (2009 and 2010). Exposures to sulfur compounds at the levels estimated from these samples may be associated with health effects such as headaches; irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; tiredness; and problems controlling respiratory conditions, such as asthma, an accompanying fact sheet notes.

Testing of limited samples of drywall made in China in 2009 showed that long-term exposures to the estimated levels of hydrogen sulfide may have posed a public health concern for sensitive people, such as those with asthma.

ATSDR recommends that people who have health symptoms or effects that they feel are associated with problem drywall provide the report to their healthcare provider. For residents in homes with drywall that meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) problem drywall case definition, the agency recommends following CPSC/U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) remediation guidance.

For more information, view ATSDR’s full report.

Related Resources from AIHA

Last year, AIHA issued a guidance document, “Assessment and Remediation of Corrosive Drywall,” which provides a more comprehensive approach to the assessment of structures with respect to corrosive drywall. For further background information on corrosive drywall, see AIHA’s “White Paper on Corrosive Drywall.”