C&EN associate editor Bethany Halford explains in the article that drywall also known as wallboard, plasterboard, and gypsum board is composed of a gypsum, a chalk-like material. Spurred by complaints from homeowners that their homes smell like rotten eggs, investigators have traced the problem to drywall imported from China starting in 2004. But officials do not know the exact chemicals that are causing the problem and how they got into the drywall.
Researchers suspect that the odors are caused by certain sulfur-containing substances in the drywall. Released as gases, these substances can corrode copper pipes, wiring, and air conditioning coils, the article notes. Although officials believe that the gases do not pose a serious health threat, many homeowners with the drywall have reported nosebleeds, sinus problems, and respiratory infections. Several government agencies are now investigating the exact health effects caused by exposure to these gases as well as the electrical safety issues related to corrosion of copper wiring.
ARTICLE #5 EMBARGOED FOR 9 A.M., EASTERN TIME, May 4, 2009
This story will be available on May 4 at http://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/87/8718sci2.html
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