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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.

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FAQ

Questions about drywall?

Frequently Asked Questions About Corrosion Caused by Drywall

Please recognize the following answers are based on the best available information and are subject to periodic review and revision as the Department of Health (DOH) continues to research the issues. Please check back often to review additional questions/answers and revisions.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions with answers are available through the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Drywall Information Center.

  • How can I tell if my home or the home I wish to purchase has problem drywall?
  • Does this phenomenon pose a health hazard to me, my children, or pets?
  • How can I tell if my home or the home I wish to purchase has problem drywall?
  • Will the Health Department sample and test my home for corrosive gasses or for the presence of Chinese drywall?
  • Is there a test for "Chinese drywall"?
  • Will you tell me which builder or community has imported drywall?
  • Is the Chinese drywall radioactive?
  • Who can evaluate, repair, remediate or fix my home for this issue?
  • Is there a known treatment to deal with suspect drywall emissions?
  • Do the corrosive gasses absorb and re-emit from other surfaces or materials?
  • Who do I call if I wish to file a consumer complaint?

The presence of drywall imported from China in a home is not considered to be the primary problem; instead the Florida Department of Health (DOH) suggests people focus on the occurrence of premature and severe copper corrosion.  DOH developed a case definition and a user friendly step by step self-assessment guide so that a homeowner or inspector can determine if their home has the signs typically found in homes with this problem.  The most definitive way to determine if drywall in a home is imported from China is to locate “Made in China” markings on the back of a sheet of drywall.  This is likely to require the cutting of holes in the drywall. 

During our inspection of several homes DOH staff observed some drywall in homes with either no discernable markings or markings with no indication of the origin of manufacturer.  The origin of unmarked or nondescript marked drywall is unknown.  DOH observed that many homes contained a mixture of Chinese drywall and drywall marked as made in USA.  Remember that we do not know how many sheets of the suspect drywall can cause problems.  DOH staff did observe at least one home with marked Chinese drywall that showed none of the associated corrosion or odor problems.

The answer to this question was addressed in the following documents:

CDC/ATSDR's Response to Problem Drywall - US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Fact Sheet: Public Health Implications of Chinese-manufactured Drywall – May 2, 2014 – US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 

Health Consultation: Possible Health Implications From Exposure to Sulfur Gases Emitted From Chinese-Manufactured Drywall – May 2, 2014 – US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

The presence of drywall imported from China in a home is not considered to be the primary problem; instead the Florida Department of Health (DOH) suggests people focus on the occurrence of premature and severe copper corrosion.  DOH developed a case definition and a user friendly step by step self-assessment guide so that a homeowner or inspector can determine if their home has the signs typically found in homes with this problem.  The most definitive way to determine if drywall in a home is imported from China is to locate “Made in China” markings on the back of a sheet of drywall.  This is likely to require the cutting of holes in the drywall.

During our inspection of several homes DOH staff observed some drywall in homes with either no discernable markings or markings with no indication of the origin of manufacturer.  The origin of unmarked or nondescript marked drywall is unknown.  DOH observed that many homes contained a mixture of Chinese drywall and drywall marked as made in USA.  Remember that we do not know how many sheets of the suspect drywall can cause problems.  DOH staff did observe at least one home with marked Chinese drywall that showed none of the associated corrosion or odor problems. 

At this time FDOH does not visit homes to collect air or material samples for analysis. You may hire a licensed contractor, licensed home inspector, licensed engineer or indoor air quality consultant to collect samples if analysis is needed. 

We created a “Self Assessment Inspections” guide and a “Case Definition” based on the best available information and research following the November 5-6, 2009 Technical Symposium on Corrosive Imported Drywall organized and sponsored by DOH, the University of Florida and the University of South Florida . You can also review the federal guidance “Identification Guidance for Homes with Corrosion from Problem Drywall as of March 18, 2011”.  The American Industrial Hygiene Association more recently published an “Assessment and Remediation of Corrosive Drywall Guidance Document”.

This is a defective materials issue and not a specific builder or community issue.  At this time, the best method of determining if a building is impacted is to use our case definition and/or our step by step self assessment guide.

Testing of the drywall for radiation demonstrated very low levels of the kind of radiation you would expect from materials derived from rocks.  This radiation is part of the natural background level in our environment.  We have posted our radiological analysis report for your information.  For additional information regarding radiation, please review our radiation: questions and answers document.

Environmental consultants, licensed plumbers, electricians, air-conditioning contractors, mechanical contractors and drywall contractors, home inspectors, your builder, electrical engineers, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning engineers, industrial hygienists, building scientists to name a few.  Be advised that each group will bring with them their own specialized expertise and experience and will likely be conducting a visual inspection for the presence of metal corrosion. 

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is offering advice on who you can hire to repair, remediate or fix your home.  You can also verify a contractor or other licensed building trade professional’s license on their website.

FDOH is not currently aware of any proven and effective treatment method other than removal and replacement of the suspected or known source material.  Claims of treatment involving ozone, coatings, and air cleaners should be scrutinized for evidence of proven effectiveness.  The Office of the Attorney General of Florida posted a consumer alert on this subject.  DOH recommends against the use of ozone generators in occupied spaces, since ozone is a highly reactive and irritating molecule and is considered hazardous to people and pets.  See US Environmental Protection Agency report "Ozone Generators That Are Sold as Air Cleaners".

Based on reports from occupants and preliminary test results, this may be possible for some porous materials such as drywall and fabrics. It is uncertain whether this will affect materials such as concrete and lumber. The effectiveness of cleaning these materials is currently unknown.

See filing a consumer complaint.

*We recommend you do not send emails with questions or statements containing personal health information. Be advised that your submission and your email will become part of the public record subject to release in response to inquiries by the public in accordance with the Florida public records laws, Florida Statutes, Chapter 119.

*Note: This page contains materials in the Portable Document Format (PDF).  The free Adobe Reader may be required to view these files. 

Revised 05/15/2009