Update on Chinese wallboard with a side order of sulphur

Chinese sulphur-exhaling wallboard: the latest.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

Lawsuits. Post-pollution huffing and puffing. Perhaps a hundred thousand homes with sulphur exhaling wallboard. Questions of free trade vs. consumer protection. This one's got a lot of fingers pointing in different directions.

Here's a recent summary of some of what's happened. I first blogged about this Chinese import issue back in March.

Here's S 1606, a bill that would require overseas manufacturers to make products that meet American industrial regulations. It is NOT legal in the U.S. to use sulphur-bearing coal ash to make wallboard. That's apparently what happend in the Chinese drywall. And we all know that China has mountains of coal ash. The Chinese drywall was imported across the Pacific after Hurricane Katrina because U.S. domestic production was suddenly not enough to meet demand. That meant it was profitable to ship wallboard thousands of miles to the southern U.S.

The problem is so widespread there's a conference today in Sarasota. It's devoted to sharing all the many investigations and test results tracking the wallboard and its possible toxic effects.

Some research indicates there is a chemical trail that is causing the problems with the imported wallboard. There is elemental sulfur in the wallboard. That reacts with tiny amounts of carbon monoxide in the air and that can produce carbonyl sulfide. In turn that reacts with moisture and produces hydrogen sulphide and even sulphuric acid. So the sulphur-bearing wallboard is particularly problematic in the humid U.S. Gulf Coast region.

An opposing theory about the sulphurous wallboard: blame some sulphur-fixing bacteria.

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