Could Your Drywall Be Making You Ill?

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Home Improvement

How to Identify Toxic Drywall

If your home has toxic Chinese drywall, there are some clear indicators. The first is the smell of sulfur, which has been likened to rotten eggs. Homeowners have reported that their air conditioning systems have failed prematurely and frequently, due to the corrosion of copper wiring caused by the drywall. If you notice that your HVAC system has failed and the copper wires are coated in black residue, it’s likely that you have a problem. Other appliances, such as stoves, ovens, and refrigerators, have also been affected. If you’re experiencing issues with these appliances, it’s likely due to toxic drywall. These issues are only warning signs if your home was built or renovated between 2005 and 2008, primarily in the coastal southern United States. However, a smaller number of homes in up to 41 states are also believed to be affected.

Other warning signs in your home include:

  • Information displays on TVs, DVD players, radios, and microwaves failing
  • Light bulbs burning out more quickly than usual
  • Tarnished silver jewelry and utensils
  • Satellite TV receivers failing

These are just warning signs related to the structure of your home. There are also health effects to watch for. If you live in a high-risk home and are experiencing respiratory problems, nosebleeds, rashes, headaches, coughing, or sinus issues, you may be experiencing problems related to toxic drywall. As of May 2009, no formal health studies had been conducted, and the Knauf company denied that off-gassing from their drywall posed a health risk. However, if the drywall is corroding copper wiring and tarnishing silver, it can’t be a coincidence that homeowners are experiencing health problems.

As of yet, no deaths have been confirmed in families living in homes with toxic drywall. However, Florida House Representative Wexler has received reports of children needing hospital stays and surgery for respiratory complications believed to be caused by the tainted gypsum. Some families have had to abandon their homes, and builders are already stripping homes down to the framing and replacing the drywall, which is the only solution. Some people fear that even this won’t entirely eliminate the sulfur smell, which is believed to have penetrated the wood.

If you suspect that your home has toxic drywall, you can contact the Homeowners Consumer Center at 866-714-6466 or visit their website at

More Information on the Topic

  • Learn about the basics of drywall
  • Step-by-step guide on how to install drywall
  • Everything you need to know about house construction
  • Understanding the risks of insulation
  • How toxic mold can affect your health
  • Discover ways to insulate the sidewall of your house

Additional Resources

  • Time Magazine
  • The Herald Tribune


  • Alonso, Parker. “Chinese Dry Wall Plaguing Florida Homeowners.”, January 12, 2009.
  • “Americas Watchdog Discovers Toxic Chinese Drywall In Texas: It May Be As Bad As Florida And This Is About To Turn Into A National Disaster.”, April 6, 2009.
  • “Analytical Laboratory Releases Testing Programs to Identify Chinese Drywall Contamination.”, May 8, 2009.
  • Gilbert, Richard. “Toxic drywall problem affects homeowners across the United States.”, May 6, 2009.
  • Hanna, Jason. “Florida: Drywall has material that can emit corrosive gas.”, March 24, 2009.
  • “House orders study of Florida drywall.”, May 8, 2009.
  • Kessler, Aaron. “Scope widens in Chinese drywall case.”, April 8, 2009.
  • Mattiace, Monique. “People crowd room in Stuart to learn more about Chinese drywall.” tcpalm, com, May 7, 2009.
  • Miles, Wanda. “Toxic Chinese Drywall Sheetrock About to Become Part of a National Investigation.”, March 18, 2009.
  • “National Forensic Expert Task Force Flying Into Florida to Validate Toxic Chinese Drywall.”, May 8, 2009.
  • Padgett, Tim. “Is Drywall the Next Chinese Import Scandal?”, March 3, 2009.,8599,1887059,00.html
  • Siniavskaia, Natalia. “The Effect of the Home Building Contraction on State Economies.”, August 1, 2008.
  • Skoloff, Brian. “AP IMPACT: Chinese drywall poses potential risks.”, April 11, 2009.


1. What is drywall?

Drywall, also known as gypsum board, is a building material made of gypsum, a soft mineral that is widely used in construction to create interior walls and ceilings.

2. How can drywall make you sick?

In some cases, drywall may contain harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, which can cause respiratory problems and other health issues if inhaled over time.

3. How can I tell if my drywall is making me sick?

If you experience symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing, especially when you are in a room with drywall, it may be a sign that your drywall is making you sick and you should consult a medical professional.

4. Can I test my drywall for harmful chemicals?

Yes, you can hire a professional to test your drywall for harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde. Alternatively, you can purchase a home test kit to check for the presence of formaldehyde.

5. How can I prevent drywall-related health problems?

To prevent drywall-related health problems, you can choose to install drywall that is certified as low-emitting, which means it has been tested and found to contain low levels of harmful chemicals. Additionally, you can improve ventilation in your home by opening windows and using fans to circulate air.

6. What should I do if I suspect my drywall is making me sick?

If you suspect your drywall is making you sick, you should consult a medical professional to determine the cause of your symptoms. Additionally, you may need to have your drywall tested for harmful chemicals and take steps to remove or replace it if necessary.

7. Can I paint over my drywall to reduce the risk of harmful chemicals?

No, painting over drywall will not reduce the risk of harmful chemicals. In fact, it may trap them beneath the paint, making the problem worse. If you suspect your drywall contains harmful chemicals, it is best to have it tested and take appropriate action.

8. What are some alternative building materials to drywall?

There are several alternative building materials to drywall, including plaster, wood paneling, and metal tiles. These materials may be more expensive or require more installation time, but they may be a good option if you are concerned about the potential health risks of drywall.

9. Is it safe to remove drywall myself?

Removing drywall can be a messy and potentially hazardous process, especially if the drywall contains harmful chemicals. It is recommended that you hire a professional to remove drywall if you are uncertain about the process or the risks involved.

10. What should I do if I have already removed drywall myself?

If you have already removed drywall yourself and suspect you may have been exposed to harmful chemicals, you should consult a medical professional to determine if you have any symptoms or health problems related to the exposure. Additionally, you may need to have your home tested for the presence of harmful chemicals and take steps to remediate any issues found.

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