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The real third rail in American politics

Chinese drywall issues explained to a consumer activist

The following is taken from my e-mail correspondence with a well-known consumer activist. Given her legal background, the most difficult concept for her is that conventional litigation will be of no use in this matter.


1.     There is no American manufacturer of tainted and corrosive drywall. Sadly, much time was wasted by Florida homeowner Brenda Brincku in her misguided litigation crusade against National Gypsum.

National took samples of EVERY piece of drywall in her house, and ran chamber tests on them (costing about $800 per sample) and there are probably 150-200 sheets of drywall in her home. As it turned out, there were no elevated sulfide levels on any of them. I was shown all the samples by Craig Weisbruch, VP of National, and was given a free rein tour of their Florida manufacturing facility.

Extensive forensic analysis has indicated that the Brincku's corrosion problems derive from sulfur-contaminated ground water by their home—and this is not uncommon in Florida.

Essentially all copycat litigation against National has been thrown out of court.


2.     As discussed, there is no possibility of any legal remedy, since—as you said—the true defendant is the Chinese government. In fact, the Chinese were unwilling to even cooperate with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, and a fight actually broke out in China when a CPSC official tried to grab a sample of tainted board that he saw in a Chinese factory.

Moreover, even the most basic questions went unanswered. The most obvious of which is this: What changed in their manufacturing process between 2005 and 2009? By 2009, board coming from the previously worst factory in China had significantly lower sulfide emissions. The Chinese refused to answer even this.


3.     As to a cover-up, one does exist, but not for the obvious reasons alone. Now, I'm speaking as a sort of DC insider...

There have been many defective and dangerous products coming from China. This—all by itself—is a serious indictment of the "Close all domestic manufacturing industry so we can eliminate pollution" policy in place for the last 20 years. In fact, pollution has been imported from China, and jobs have been exported.

The failure of agencies like CPSC to act on Chinese drywall and several other matters puts to the lie the notion that our Federal government is protecting us. This epic failure is only underscored by the sensational recent failures of the FDA.

It may be difficult to cover up when FDA approved drugs like Avandia must be taken off the market, but it's easy enough for those still sympathetic to the notion of an all-powerful federal government to downplay Chinese drywall. Besides, in this case, we have the wrong victim group: Middle-class white people.


4.     The only solution is for the lenders to be forced to extend the mortgages of these people—wrapping into them the cost of remediating their homes. After all, this is the least that the banks can do after having been propped up again and again by the Feds.



I have heard about these contaminated boards of drywall, and I'm glad to hear that no US company has been linked to it, but I'm curious as to what the result of the toxin actually is? Is it harmful to those living in the home?


Michael Shaw

Good question. The toxins coming from the board itself are volatile sulfur compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide (mostly); ethyl and methyl mercaptan; carbon disulfide; dimethyl sulfide; and carbonyl sulfide.

All of these are toxic--if present in high enough concentrations--and to people who could be unusually sensitive. Saying that, ambient air measurements of most affected homes do not show levels that normally trigger concern.

Still, there are synergisitic effects from multiple compounds being present, and the fact that many of these same homes have mold issues.

Bear in mind that in human exposures in mostly unregulated occupancies such as residences, and in a situation in which there is already considerably emotion--if not hysteria, evaluation of long-term health effects is extremely difficult.

Suffice to say, though, that if someone believes that they are sick, they probably are. "Harm," even in the most egregious cases of corrosive drywall, has been reversed once the person moved out of the house---not that such a solution is practical.


Please do your research as to Toxic Reactive Contaminated Defective Drywall....American Made Domestic Drywall. We will not speak as to the above post on the "legal background" or "misguided litigation" in the particular National Gypsum case except to say that the N.G drywall in the home is "reactive" as is our United States Gypsum Drywall "reactive", this a guideline for litigation for Chinese Drywall. We have all of the above chemicals and in doing research, you really only have to go to ToxNet or better yet, go to our new page...fb page American Made Drywall (Diewall) Health and Environmental Effects. Look closely at the In depth Investigation done by the Consumer Product Safety commission, under the cover photo which is a legal document. Epidemiology Report, Diagnosis :Poisoning. The only persons that are qualified, or certified, licensed to give such a diagnosis is a Licensed Medical Professional. Having said that, we all await the ASTDR/CDC for their low level Chronic Exposure Health Consultation Results. We do not blame you for putting it out there that American Drywall is not bad...one has to have ALL of the facts, and should have ALL of the facts before making so an uninformed statement. We have Facts to back up every statement. No one, not one of the Victims of American Made Drywall or Chinese Drywall chose this horrific event in our lives forced upon us by the Corporations, Suppliers, etc....we want to be healthy and whole not live the rest of our lives ill and yes we were hospitalized for months at a time. All Victims deserve just a little more compassion from the Media/commentators etc....and again, go to our page, just started and educate yourself and this all done by us, the other pages are done to bring awareness and warn unsuspecting future possible victims via recycling, short sales,etc... Sincerely , Joseph and Julie Mraz Jr.

Michael Shaw

Do my research? I am a founding member of the ASTM Committee on this matter, and that goes back to October, 2009.

Perhaps you do have a host of chemicals in your home. The question is, of course, where did they originate? NG spent a small fortune doing chamber tests (the gold standard) on every single board in the Brinkcu home, and none of them were emitting. The sulfur compounds probably came from the ground water.

As to CPSC--Refer to the emission chart prepared by Lawrence Berkeley Labs, and you will notice that none of the American board tested has any emissions to speak of.

Where are your facts? Show me chamber tests on the board in your home. Only I'm betting that you don't have this data.

Time to put up or shut up.


Mr.Shaw, we are now ashamed that we posted that we are happy you spoke out on the recent Legislation. Not realizing that it was you. Seeing this just now is beyond belief. "Put up or shut up" as to my post ?. We do have data, Chamber testing and instead of talking with a "professional" we seem to be speaking with someone that is at the very least argumentative and rude as to verbage. We asked the ASTM months ago to respond, this after a six way phone conference with the Consumer Product Safety Commission stating "we are waiting on the ASTM to come out with new standard and that is a slow process" this by Joanna Matheson. I do notice the quote as to CPSC and Lawrence Berkeley, just what would be "to speak of" seeing as though the ASTM does not seem to want to give us this info and you did not answer the emails. You have not tested all board and we had our Engineering Chamber tested results in front of our County Chemist who refused our drywall to go to landfill based on the emissions. We are Disabled Americans before this Poisoning and just maybe you did look at our page, I am thinking yes...before my Disability , I sir was a OSHA Outreach Trainer and since you are a "founding member since 2009" why did you NOT return our emails. We do not have National Gypsum, we have United States Gypsum, who by the way is in the MDL, having brought in drywall from China, who knew of the problem...maybe you Sir should share all of the facts concerning every chemical that is "o.k." to be in our wallboard via the FGD process or otherwise, this would help clear up alot. As for our Six way conference call with the CPSC, Chloroform, etc, including Carbon Disulfide, Carbonyl Sulfide , etc is what we have....just a few of the chemicals to which they replied "waiting on the ASTM", Sincerely, Joseph and Julie Mraz jr.

Charles A Hummer

I am frankly astounded that you say you are a founding member of the ASTM Committee. After reading your comments it sounds like you are a stock salesman for the American Drywall Companies? Allow me to introduce myself. I am Charles A. Hummer, a 100% Disabled Veteran, who was exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam. Now 40 years later I purchased a new 3000 Sq Ft home that has Contaminated United States Gypsum Drywall (American). I know these facts because I became an expert in Chinese/American Contaminated Drywall. Anyone, including yourself, can claim to be an expert as no license is required, therefore everyone is coming out of the walls stating that they are such. I became an expert out of the necessity of survival. I have tested everywhere and everything, as I didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket. Look at my website and check the lists of Contaminated homes and businesses. This only is the tip of the iceberg, and when it comes out it will make the Chinese situation look like small school. There is plenty I want to say, but not on your dime. Pay close attention to the National news this coming week! I have printed your comments, and since they are public, I might even quote you. Maybe if you read my website you might become a little more informed about the Contaminated American Drywall.

Charles A Hummer

By the way my website is: www.contaminatedamericandrywall.com

Michael Shaw


As to ASTM, I can only regret that the committee has done very little, although that may change now that there are new people involved. It was my intent that the tainted drywall group should be in the E06 Performance of Buildings committee, but it was hijacked and transferred into the C11 Gypsum Committee. I mentioned at that time that this was a big mistake, and there were some heated words.

Surprise, surprise, the group has done almost nothing. BUT--they will now be forced into action, based on the recently passed Drywall Safety Act of 2012.

Nonetheless, you *still* have not "put up," have you? Where is your chamber test data?

As to FGD drywall, this has been a stupid red herring from the beginning. If anything, FGD drywall is even more pure than mined gypsum drywall.

However, I have always maintained this position...

Very small changes in the home environment can be extremely annoying, especially odors. And, even if no traditional health effects can be measured, if the occupant feels "different" or worse, that is a legitimate finding. Indeed, traditional health effects studies, based on industrial exposures to chemicals are not relevant in this discussion.

As you might imagine, this position has put me at odds with other "experts," but the plain fact is that they are wrong.

Michael Shaw

@Charles A. Hummer--

I visited your website, and checked out the lab data. You realize, of course, that there are no significant findings whatsoever.

I am sorry that you are sick, but nothing there indicates that it was caused by the drywall.

Please explain to me what chemicals caused your condition.


Thanks for the post, and if anyone else is looking for new drywall that they could get for there home then I suggest that you check out http://detaileddrywall.com/products.html or your local home depot.

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