Not Just Chinese Drywall, U.S.-Made Material Toxic, Too

As thousands of homeowners around the country have complained of health problems, corroded electrical wiring and a noxious rotten-egg smell, Chinese drywall has been fingered as the culprit. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently released a report linking the problems with hydrogen sulfide gas emitted from Chinese drywall, which was imported by home builders during the construction boom when domestic supplies were tight.

But a recent investigation by CBS News suggests that domestically produced drywall may be a culprit as well.

In fact, CBS News found that 10 out of 44 cases studied by the CPSC and categorized as "imported drywall," actually involved domestically-made drywall.

In addition, a team of researchers at the University of Florida spent five months examining samples of both American and Chinese-made drywall. The surprising results: all but one of the U.S. samples emitted sulfur gasses. Although the American-made drywall generally had lower levels of gas emissions than the Chinese-made material, in some cases it was higher than some Chinese samples.

The CPSC and other agencies are continuing to study the issue. In a statement released on Nov. 23, the CPSC said it "is investigating drywall from other sources that may mimic the problems found with Chinese drywall." It added that the agency is meeting with drywall manufacturers and others who are studying the issue.

In an email, a CPSC spokesman said, "Our researcher pointed out that not all drywall is alike and not all Chinese drywall may be alike. It depends on what it's made of, not necessarily the country it comes from."

The drywall issue is more than a headache for affected homeowners - some have had their insurance policies cancelled as a result. In the meantime, lawmakers and the CPSC are pressing the Internal Revenue Service to allow affected homeowners to deduct drywall-related costs.

Drywall, made from gypsum, a chalky white mineral, is considered safe in its pure form. Drywall alternatives include plaster (which also contains gypsum), as well as new eco-friendly options such as EcoRock.

Click here to read our story on how to detect the presence of toxic drywall in your home.

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